Russell and his younger brother Rodney live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother becomes involved with one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast - a mistake that will cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother. Written by
Revenge is hardly a fresh concept in film-making. This basic theme, however, here takes a backseat to the styled execution of "Out of the Furnace." Told through an all-star cast, the story unfolds slowly, but powerfully. Set in a rural, present-day America, the cinematography captures a beautiful country and glory that is seemingly fading under the weight of war and the economy. The cast skillfully fleshes out the various characters, establishing believability and giving them a rare level of depth. This makes the atmosphere tangible and arguably makes the element of human drama the actual star of the film. The entire cast is excellent and essential, however Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson absolutely steal the show. As the bad-to-the-bone "villain" of the script, Harrelson is awesomely despicable, his mere presence on the screen inciting anxiety. Alternately, Bale plays a good but troubled man, condemned to watch his life disintegrate one piece at a time. I caught the director, Scott Cooper, in an interview segment on Carson Daly. He mentioned a desire to impact and "immerse" the audience in his movies. In that regard, I would judge this effort to be an undeniable success. During certain scenes, I found myself echoing the actions and emotions depicted on screen, such as dread, liberation, uneasiness, tension, and particularly, a relieved breath of serenity. More drama than action, the tone for me was reminiscent of "The Place Beyond the Pines", another well-executed drama with a definite crime flavoring. Also, I felt that the Pearl Jam number that opens and closes the film was a perfect choice for the intended vibe, and deserves a special mention. Overall, this movie is very well done, despite lacking the glamour and flash of an action flick. As a drama, I highly recommend it to fans of the genre.
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