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Christian Bale ditches his cape but remains a hero in ‘Out of the Furnace’

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'Out of the Furnace' movie review

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Now that Christian Bale has hung up his bat suit, we are pleased to see this gifted actor return to more complicated roles. As you recall, he exhibited remarkable skill as a child actor ('Empire of the Sun') and was able to successfully transition to an adult actor. He subsequently garnered an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor in the 2010 biographical drama ' The Fighter.'

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In this outing, Bale stars in ‘Out of the Furnace’ a motion picture from Scott Cooper, the critically-acclaimed writer and director of ‘Crazy Heart.’ This original story is a gripping and gritty drama with various themes of family, fate, circumstance, and justice.

In the movie, Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day and cares for his terminally ill father by night. His brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) is a soldier who has returned home from the Iraq war and is seduced by bare knuckle gambling. He is lured into one of the most coldblooded crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. When the local authorities cannot help him find Rodney, Russell takes matters in his own hands to seek justice for his sibling and sets out on a course decided by fate.

Immersed among the ruins of the dying steel mill industry, the film's plot mirrors the desolate environment where families struggle to hold onto a way of life that slowly slips from their grasp. It is a haunting portrait of modern day ghost towns.

In ‘Out of the Furnace’ Bale becomes a character that you genuinely care about. He delivers a powerful performance as an average guy who endures loss and heartache with a quiet resolve. Yet, he lives by a moral code. In a pivotal scene, he chooses not to shoot a deer while hunting. It is as if the killing of an innocent creature is not a justifiable death.

‘Out of the Furnace’s’ extraordinary cast includes Christian Bale (Russell Baze), Woody Harrelson (Harlan DeGroat), Casey Affleck (Rodney Baze, Jr.), Forest Whitaker (Chief Wesley Barnes), Willem Dafoe (John Petty) with Zoë Saldana (Lena Taylor), and Sam Shepard (Gerald ‘Red’ Baze).

Casey Affleck who portrays his younger brother Ronnie, Jr., turns in a profound performance as a damaged war vet whose sense of hopelessness haunts him as he deals with memories of his fallen comrades. Affleck taps into the desperation and guilt that permeates the lives of war veterans who have endured loss.

Woody Harrelson morphs into a ruthless hillbilly drug lord. His icy portrayal of a dangerous sociopath who calmly metes out punishment void of remorse is disturbing. He is the essence of present day evil.

Zoë Saldana is Russell’s lost love. Her portrayal of Lena conveys a woman whose fate forces her to make practical choices that sets her upon a path that impacts the lives of the men in her life.

The classical tale embodied in 'Out of the Furnace' is a solemn testimony to the bond and commitment to family. It is a film that will rock you to your core as you experience this emotional passage to seek justice. Ultimately, it is an insightful depiction of one man’s struggle while living with the life fate has dealt.

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