There are only two songs listed in the credits for Out of the Furnace. Both songs also happen to be the same song: "Release" by Pearl Jam. I'm not sure if the double listing was an error or if there is a reason for this, but either way, it is very fitting that the only song listed is titled "Release". Really, that is what this movie is all about. It is a movie in which all of the characters need a release from various things that are plaguing them.
Out of the Furnace is an intense film and it shows it right away by opening with the character of Harlan DeGroat, played by Woody Harrelson, watching the movie The Midnight Meat Train at a drive-in theater. The Midnight Meat Train is an intense film itself and what happens at this drive-in theater is just as intense as what is on the screen. Now, what's funny about this is that The Midnight Meat Train never played in theaters in the United States, let alone at a drive-in theater! Maybe it's wishful thinking on the filmmakers' part or maybe it's just a drive-in theater the likes of which I've unfortunately never come across. Anyway, the tension starts right from this opening scene and keeps building throughout the film.
The direction, cinematography, and editing all play their part in creating a consistently dread-filled tone for the film. Most important in Out of the Furnace, however, is the acting. Everyone does a phenomenal job here. Christian Bale and Casey Affleck just feel right as brothers and I don't think I would have thought that before I saw this movie. Both actors deliver excellent performances with each of them getting their moments to really shine in both quiet and loud scenes for their characters. Willem Dafoe seems like a no-brainer for the role of John Petty, a man who makes shady deals. Zoe Saldana doesn't get as much screen time or as complex a role as the boys, but what she does get she makes use of very well. Forest Whitaker also does a great job with his role as a police chief.
Basically, the plot of Out of the Furnace involves the crossing paths of Rodney Baze Jr, an Iraq veteran played by Casey Affleck, and Harlan DeGroat, a violent and powerful man played by Woody Harrelson. It is also about Rodney's brother, Russell, played by Christian Bale. Rodney has baggage inside of him leftover from the war and Russell's emotional baggage really piles up as the movie goes on. At times, it seems like any of the characters in this film might just explode and sometimes, they kind of do.
As I said, Out of the Furnace is an intense film. It is a drama with a strong sense of foreboding. It is also a very tightly edited film. Nothing really seems extraneous here. The film moves along at a nice pace and ends just when it needs to. Though, perhaps, I would have cut out the last five seconds of the movie, but maybe that's just me. Still, the ending of this movie, like many scenes prior, is a powerful one. Out of the Furnace is a real showcase of the power of acting and overall mood in a movie.
Right from the beginning of Out of the Furnace, a tension starts to build. There is a fire beginning to spread across all the characters of the film. Will it ever be put out? That's the question that keeps the movie interesting right until its very final shot. For lovers of drama and seekers of tension, Out of the Furnace should do very well.