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Out of the Furnace

Posted by admin on December 14, 2013

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The recession was not an easy age to live in. It was a time where we finally had to pay for our choices to hold everything in credit. The prices went up and the job market was closed up. Maybe not completely closed, but no one was able to find any decent work. Even simple restaurant or delivery jobs were tough to come by. So with no easy work to go to, how about getting a better education to tide things over? The colleges were filled up with everyone trying to move themselves up, so the younger generations were being hit. Our nation was at a total standstill.

California got it. New York got hit. Florida got hit. But the worst damage hit the Rust Belt of America. What this is exactly is a section of the states that begins in central-northern New York area and stretching to Michigan. An already suffering area became worse as this land was slowly turning in what could have been a future vision of the rest of America. What lies here are abandoned factories, rusty bars, old-fashioned homes, and people who were left with broken dreams of escape. Two brothers look out for each other during the recession in the newest thriller, Out of the Furnace.

Russell Baze (played by Christian Bale) is a blue-collar mill worker who has given up a dream of golden riches in favor of family riches with his brother Rodney (played by Casey Affleck). After serving a tour of duty, Rodney is a stop-loss case as he is forced to go back to Iraq. In the meantime, Russell makes due with his loving girlfriend Lena (played by Zoe Saldena), but a sip of too much alcohol lands Russell into a car crash that kills a woman and her mother.

He spends plenty of time in prison, keeping his head down hoping that things will go back to normal later. Once out, that is anything but likely. Rodney is now suffering posttraumatic stress from his tour and is now fighting in underground clubs for money. Russell manages to get his job back, but Rodney’s luck keeps getting worse. A fight in the North-Eastern New Jersey lead by a crime lord Harlan DeGroat (played by Woody Harrelson) causes Rodney to never return. Russell stresses over his last living family missing and that local police detective Wesley Barnes (played by Forest Whitaker) can’t do much else. Time ticks away as Russell must decide to possibly take justice into his own hands.

Out of the Furnace seems to being trying it’s best to really push for some awards. It has a great cast and director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) to try something more gritty and real. That would be great in all…if it had been more original. Stories about war stress, economic situations of the rural lower class, and vigilante actions have been done to death, and I simply see nothing added from Out of the Furnace. Much of the themes seem more tired then inspired.

In a better movie like The Deer Hunter, the movie should have focused more of Rodney’s down fall then Russell.  Russell is just not that interesting. The best character here is Woody Harrelson’s Harlan character. He may be one of my favorite villains of the year. I like his underground fights and how he controls the areas of the Rust Belt. If Out of the Furnace would have thought outside of the box with it’s themes, I would have liked it better. Story apart, how does the movie look? It’s beautiful. It’s like looking at photography one might find at a museum about the Great Depression. It’s grim to look at, but with the angles it accomplishes with the factories and mountains, it’s surprising that I would find such art in a ho-hum film.

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I’ll give this three abandoned factories out of five. Out of the Furnace tries too hard on themes we’ve seen before. Not it’s a terrible film, just an uninspired one. 

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