Michelle Douvris ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Christian Bale has achieved quite the balancing act in his career so far, taking on colossal blockbusters like The Dark Knight trilogy while still maintaining respect as a masterful method actor in more art house fare. And with the release of his most recent film, Out of the Furnace, Bale could not have taken a more dramatic departure from Gotham City.
In a nutshell, Out of the Furnace is a gritty drama about Russell Baze (Bale), a man living a rough life characterized by working a dead-end job at a local steel mill and caring after his terminally ill father. His fiery brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns from serving time in Iraq and the two butt heads before Rodney gets mixed up with the wrong guys and ultimately disappears. Russell takes matters into his own hands when law enforcement (including a police chief played by Forrest Whitaker) fail to find him, and he ends up putting everything on the line to seek justice.
Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) manages to extract incredibly strong performances from the cast as well as create a bleak, almost hopeless setting that gives dimension to the characters. Bale shows off his extraordinary range as Russell, travelling between displaying tender affection with his girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) and sick father, and a steadfast ferocity as he embarks on the journey to avenge his brother. Casey Affleck gives a great performance as well, featuring a passionate monologue that will make you wish you could reach into the screen and give his character a hug. However, Woody Harrelson steals the show. As the brash, lollipop-sucking villain, he commands the screen in a frighteningly unpredictable fashion.
Out of the Furnace hits most of the right notes, but it does bear some issues to the audience. The film is extremely gritty and dark, which can be immersive but sometimes alienating. It’s definitely not a feel-good flick and you probably won’t rush back to the theater for a second viewing. It is also largely predictable, seeming to fit the mold of many revenge-centric films. At the end of the day, though, Out of the Furnace is an intense, well-crafted drama that is a respectable addition to Christian Bale’s growing filmography.
Overall Grade: B
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