Movie Review: Out of the Furnace


Stars: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forrest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard

Rated R for strong violence, language and drug content, Running time 116 minutes, Drama/Crime/Thriller

Compare to: Brothers (2009), The Fighter (2011)

When watching a movie like Out of the Furnace, it’s best to understand that it isn’t the kind of movie that the kind of drama these types of movies normally come with is thankfully absent.

That way, you’ll not only appreciate the movie better but also be prepared for the storm of depression that may head your way from seeing what the characters go through.

Russell Baze doesn’t have the best of luck. And after a stint in prison, he’s released to find out that his brother Rodney has gotten mixed up with the kind of people that aren’t too lenient when it comes to paying debts. After Rodney disappears, Russell takes it upon himself to find out what’s happened and to see if he can makes things right.


Any summary you get of the movie may be telling you too much. Not that it gives things away, but this is a movie that takes it’s time getting where it’s going. So the viewer will be waiting for what was shown in the trailer or described in the synopsis but the movie will be halfway over by the time you realize this isn’t exactly what you thought it was.

Over the course of the film, we’re introduced to the Baze family, their rough life in Braddock, Pennsylvania, where there isn’t a fingernail that doesn’t have dirt under it. It’s tough to know who’s going through a harder time in the film; Russell, Bale’s character, who is sent to prison after one moment that changes everything for him. Or it could be his younger brother Rodney, whose time in the military has left his scarred in every way and he’s out of work, among other things.

There are few happy moments in the film and they’re mostly found in the brief interactions between family and friends; don’t expect a righteous climax where all is made right by the end. While everything may have gone wrong for Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Furnace shows us a much more grounded side of lives that don’t seem like they can last much longer.

But will you like it? Will it entertain you?

One of many standoffs.

One of many standoffs.

The performances are great. There isn’t a negative word to say about anybody here. From Bale to Whitaker to Shepard, this isn’t the movie for phoned in performances no matter how small the part. And it is surprising how small some of them get. But nothing to complain about here as everybody is steady. Realism takes the forefront and nobody gives into playing the “I’ve got to make this count!” role.

Woody Harrelson may be the stand out here though. Not because his performance is any better than his cast mates, but you know when he shows up, things are going to get uncomfortable and he keeps things moving as the meth-dealing underground boxing promoting hillbilly. From his clothes to his teeth, he comes across as what the mutants in Wrong Turn would’ve been like before all the inbreeding.

But his dealers have nice cars!

But his dealers have nice cars!

This is also gives Harrelson a total of three movies at the theater right now between this, Free Birds and Catching Fire. The same goes for Whitaker with this, Black Nativity, and The Butler depending on where you live. But I suppose with this nice of a cast, something like this is bound to happen.

The bottom line is that you’re going to like this, but will you want to watch it again? While not on the same level of heavy as 12 Years a Slave, Furnace will definitely take it’s toll on you as no depressing stone is left unturned and you may wonder what message the film wants you take from it.


Buck hunting.

Positives- All performances are great, realism makes things tense and unpredictable

Negatives- Very slowly paced, very depressing

Grade: B


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