Out of the Furnace

Netflix Instant Classic: Out of the Furnace

Genre: Gritty Thriller

What’s it about? Hill people literally duking it out for money and their lives.

Who’s in it? Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Willem Defoe, Casey Affleck, and Forest Whitaker

You’ll like it if… You like movies like Winter’s Bone and A History of Violence. (If those two movies had a baby it would be Out of the Furnace.)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Big Brother flies straight. He’s a wise, hard worker who follows in his father’s footsteps.

Little Brother is a wild child. Determined to break the mold – and a tradition of perceived failure – he desperately tries to punch is way out of poverty and into a better life.

But instead of finding fortune, Little Brother is confronted with the moral destitution that comes with his own poor life choices. He gets in over his head and Big Brother has to come bail him out… If it’s not too late, that is.

Either way, things are bound to get messy.

It’s one of Hollywood’s favorite formulas and it is very much at work in “Out of the Furnace.”

Of course, I wouldn’t be reviewing this movie if it didn’t do a damn good job. (It’s worth noting Out of the Furnace was produced by Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio, which accounts for the star power and strong direction.)

Just look at the cast. It’s fucking loaded.

And in addition to being well-acted, it’s well shot.

Set in primarily in Pennsyltucky, we also get a look at New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountains. Both locations are desolate.  The two regions are portrayed as being more than just poor areas – they’re lawless lands governed by the insular silence of their close-knit  and clannish townsfolk.

In fact, some of the locals took exception to being portrayed as drug-addled “inbreds,” even going so far as to file suit against the filmmakers.

It’s actually fitting that the movie should prove so contentious, because there’s a lot of fighting onscreen, as well.

Russell Baze (Big Brother) is fighting to walk the line. He’s a diligent worker fighting to keep his head up in a dying steel town.  He fights his emotions.  He fights the impulse to drink. And most of all, he fights for his family, especially his little brother, Rodney.

Sometimes he wins sometimes he loses.  But the struggle, as the kids say, is real.

Rodney fights, too. He’s an Army man that gets deployed overseas to fight Iraqis. When he gets back home he fights the memories. He also fights people.

That is, Rodney participates in a bare-knuckle boxing ring on behalf of the local sleaze merchant.

And, as I said, things get messy.

I’m not going to go into anymore detail regarding the plot, because one of this movie’s strengths is that it keeps things interesting, even while clinging to a tired form.

The one twist I do feel comfortable revealing, however, is that it’s Forest Whitaker who usurps the infamous “Batman voice” from Christian Bale.

That, and maybe one other thing…

I didn’t understand the final shot of the film – the very, very end. So I looked it up and found an explanation here [SPOILER ALERT, obviously]. So if you do watch it, and you’re confused like I was, there’s your answer.

Here’s the trailer…

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