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Movie review: 'Out of the Furnace' never heats up

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Out of the Furnace

Rating:
Star3
Star
Star
Star
Star

Out of the Furnace (opening today) begins with a less-than-ideal date, where a woman is abused and her would-be rescuer is beaten senseless. We need this scene to know just how violent Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) can be, and he doesn't disappoint: Nobody plays a scumbag quite like Woody.

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Then we meet the Baze brothers, Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney (Casey Affleck). Both are tough, rugged individuals each with their own set of problems. Rodney's seem more man-made: He's a gambling man with some serious debts to be paid. Russell seems happy enough with his girlfriend, Lena (Zoe Saldana) and when he tries to help out his brother by talking to the man who loaned him the money (Willem Dafoe), he rubs shoulders with the dangerous Harlan DeGroat, who was just leaving.

In Out of the Furnace, these early scenes would lead you to believe that things are about to heat up nicely. There are great actors given interesting characters and put in an equally promising situation. But sadly, the story never materializes into anything even lukewarm.

Russell and Rodney both have some absolutely horrible things happen to them during the course of the film. Finally, after the slow crawl of the film's first half, it seems like things are about to heat up when Russell decides to take matters into his own hands after his brother disappears. But then, nothing really happens again. Russell enters a crack house owned by DeGroat, but the two don't run into each other. Instead, we get a few more anticlimactic scenes. The pacing of the film's second half ends up matching the first.

There is an eventual showdown, but by the time it comes it felt like less of a climax and more of a "thank goodness something is happening!" moment. And it's predictable. For a film toting itself a thriller, it is not all that thrilling.

That's not to say that there aren't any good moments, but based on the talent it had to work with, it was disappointing that Out of the Furnace couldn't create more of a spark.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Run Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes, Rated R

Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe

Co-written & Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart)

Opens locally on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 (check for show times).

Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.

Subscribe above for email alerts of all movie reviews and news, and follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli and at TomSantilli.com.

How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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