OUT OF THE FURNACE (Scott Cooper). 116 minutes. Opens Friday (December 6). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: N
You don’t realize how awful Out Of The Furnace is right away. It takes a little while to reveal itself.
Scott Cooper’s follow-up to Crazy Heart positions itself as a grand American tragedy but it’s just a turgid, laughably grim slog through hoary old working-class clichés.
Christian Bale stars as Russell Baze, a noble ex-con in Braddock, Pennsylvania, who works at the mill, cares for his dying father and tries his best to keep his hapless brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) out of trouble. Rodney’s a veteran who expresses his PTSD through bare-knuckle boxing, which puts him on a collision course with Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a seething brute who runs an underground fight club up in the mountains.
One thing leads to another, and eventually Russell winds up on a collision course with Harlan as well, against the warnings of the local law (Forest Whitaker). And it’s here that Out Of The Furnace goes completely off the rails, spinning into one preposterous contrivance after another in order to reach its predetermined conclusion.
There’s no dramatic weight or emotional resonance, just affectation. And the plot wouldn’t sustain an episode of Justified, let alone a feature film. It’s kind of awesome that Whitaker delivers all his lines in Bale’s Batman growl, though.