Out of the Furnace

 RATED-(R)-116-MIN-2013

I would imagine that director: Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) is a big fan of: (The Deer Hunter)  because this film looks a lot like Michael Cimino's great film, with the billows of grey factory smoke and worn down buildings. Centered by two solemn and burning performances by (Christian Bale) and (Casey Affleck) (Out of the Furnace) tells the story of two brothers from a Pennsylvania mill town, where the working class know how each day goes and dream of something different. Family blood runs deep, as does a sense of community, no matter how tough it is. If someone is in trouble, there is always someone to ask for a favor.

(Bale) with each film, continues to show what a daring, unpredictable and great actor he is. He plays Russell Blaze, and (Affleck) is his little brother Rodney, who is back in town again after another tour in Iraq. His portrayal of Russell is a mostly internal performance as he struggles to work hard at the same mill his dying father did, be good to his beautiful girlfriend:(the stunning Zoe Saldana) who is excellent as Lena, and watch over his  brother. Rodney is a lost soul of sorts and wants no part of his town. The tour of dutys have left him scarred and feeling hopeless. I must say that I have always found the younger Affleck an interesting performer, and he not only holds his own with a great cast, but also has some rather intense scenes that show you what a rather good actor he is. (Woody Harrelson) is another actor I have always admired. He is not afraid to take chances and he does as a ruthless drug dealer, user, and crime lord: Harlan DeGroat, who oversees brutal bare knuckle fighting, where apparently the winner kills the loser up in the back woods of Appalachia in New Jersey. The opening scene at a drive in, where he's sitting with a woman in his car who pisses him off and what he does to her next, shows you exactly what lengths this character will go to and how he has no boundaries. Good stuff from him here and introduction of the villain.

A sad twist of fate has Russell ending up in prison for a few years after an car accident.When he gets out, he finds his girlfriend who never visited him, has left him for a local Police officer: Wesley (Forest Whittaker). His father has died, and Rodney has taken up fighting in illegal bare fisted brawling. He may not be that good at it, but he is full of rage. (Willem Dafoe) who is great, plays the bar owner and local bookie: John, who Rodney owes money to and gets him fights to pay back his debt. Tired of the small time bouts, Rodney convinces John against his wishes, to get him to some serious fights in the backwoods of New Jersey, where Harrelson runs it. Dafoe knows DeGroat and how dangerous he is.

When John and Rodney go missing, It's up to his big brother and their Uncle Red: (the on a roll Sam Shepard) to head to Jersey and the drug infested hidden in the hills place that his brother disappeared to. This is very much a classic revenge story about when basically good people, cross a line to exact out some kind of justice; but the performances all around, the tight direction and some good score work, make this a rather gripping movie. I wasn't crazy about the ending...it felt a bit anti climatic. Otherwise, this is a solid film. I must point out a couple of scenes that really stay with you a bit. In one that takes place as (Bale) tries to convince his brother to go down the path that he and his father took, (Affleck) goes on rant on why he can't follow in his families's footsteps; another damaged forgotten veteran who feels abandoned. The other is a scene on a bridge between (Bale) and (Saldana). He finally try's to talk to her after getting out and profess his love and how he wishes she were back; that he will make things right. What she tells him next and how these two actors perform this scene, will break your heart, as fate and time has torn them apart. That is really, what this movie is about.

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