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
Firstly, Christian Bale, like Sean Penn cannot really put a foot wrong in my book, having said that, I was disappointed with his character, far too much focus on mood shots and little on character development. Unlike other reviewers, a slow burn when cast correctly is a joy to watch and for the first hour I thought we had another 'Deerhunters', 'Nil By Mouth', 'Mystic River' & 'North Country' gritty realism of real life, not some $1M bonus farce created by selling hedged funds that 99% of people cannot relate to. However, cracks appeared quickly in how fast Bale was jailed, how quick his woman left him and how little their relationship mattered to the plot. I want to care for the characters and Saldana got zero screen time to care for her, so much so that when she announced her 'big' news, who really cared? Sam Shepherd was woefully underused and in my honest opinion, I felt sorry for the talent not utilized, again showing no respect to the role or character, he may as well have not been there. Whitaker was OK, but again, lack of promotion of the character, why would Saldana choose him over Bale? why would she not visit prison? Prison time was a joke and may as well not have been there. Affleck, whose voice irritates, really stepped up as did Willem Dafoe, who I am really enjoying of late in his roles and finally Woody Harrelson was on fire in this role. What you have here is a film that concentrates its focus in the wrong areas, relying far too much on a good cast list to carry it through and considering it is nearly 2 hours long seems rushed at the end. I still recommend this film simply as watching Bale & Harrelson is like watching Tiger Woods or Ronaldo.....even if they have a bad day, they are worth the entrance fee alone.
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