Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for strong violence, language and drug content
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
Shockingly, “Out of the Furnace” is from the mind of very competent (but maybe one hit wonder) writer/director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart). I mean, the story was flawed, the script was highly flawed and the direction was…well, the direction was alright. BUT, the acting from this award worthy ensemble (Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker) was so on point, it was enough to make me give “Out of the Furnace” a slight recommendation.
Synopsis: Set in a small, economically depressed town (the type of place Brue Springsteen sings about) “Out of the Furnace” tells the story of a troubled Iraq War veteran (Affleck) who mysteriously disappears after getting mixed up with a backwoods, but still very ruthless crime lord (Harrelson). Now, Russell (Bale) the vet’s hard working, family oriented, but “dealt a couple of bad hands in life” older brother (also, the kind of guy Bruce Springsteen sings about) will stop at nothing to find out what has become of his only sibling.
While this sounds like the makings of a pretty compelling heartland story, the script is filled with the most egregious of gaping plot holes, plausible situations that come to illogical conclusions (the scene when Bale’s character buys drugs was obviously written by someone who had never purchased drugs before) and many coincidental plot contrivances which had me suspecting that co-writer’s Cooper and Brad Ingelsby hadn’t fully outlined the script before writing it. Of course the character who is about to die “accidentally” pocket dials the police, so that they now have proof of the entire murder. That probably happens all the time.
More problems: During the first 45 minutes this film meanders, telling three or four different stories before settling on the revenge story that everyone in the theater came to see. And don’t get me started on the ending! An ending which was so overly dramatic (without earning it) and so drawn out, that I almost got up and left the theater.
Again, on the other hand, there is the acting, which is all around electric. Even though Whitaker puts on a ridiculous accent, even though this is the worst (the least greatest) white-trash performance Bale has given to date and even though Zoe Saldana is in this movie, the acting (especially the performances from Harrelson and Affleck) absolutely save this film from dying a straight to DVD style death.
Final Thought: Aside from a handful of standout sequences (maybe 3) and a slew of “top of their game” performances, “Out of the Furnace” is strangely disappointing as far as its presentation, focus and overall point. As much as I enjoyed the acting, there is no reason to spend a cold night in line and eleven dollars on “Out of the Furnace”. What you have here is definitely a “wait for redbox” situation.
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