5 December 2013 3:00 AM, PST | Moviefone | See recent Moviefone news »

Christian Bale often oscillates between two acting modes. First, there's Christian Bale the big-screen populist, who springs up in the likes of "Terminator Salvation" and the three Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies with cocksure swagger and something wounded underneath. Then there's Christian Bale the serious actor, who starves himself for "The Machinist" and "Rescue Dawn" and makes all other actors feel like they simply aren't doing enough earnest morphing for their roles.

Both of those modes are on display in "Out of the Furnace," the new film from co-writer/director Scott Cooper, whose last film, "Crazy Heart," won Jeff Bridges a long-deserved Oscar. Bale is clearly gunning for the same recognition here (more on that in a minute) as a steelworker who seeks to untangle a mystery involving his Iraq War veteran brother (Casey Affleck, wonderful as always), looking into the iffy hills of the Appalachian backwoods to find answers. »

- Drew Taylor

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