By Jack Rico
The “1-4-0″: As a revenge drama, @OutOfTheFurnace offers solid performances and an intriguing story, but its goal of greatness falls short.
The Gist: A man is hell bent on revenge when his brother is killed violently by drug junkie lunatic.
The Highlights: The direction from Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart). Cooper says there is revenge in his film, but he’s really trying to tell “a searingly realistic story as truthful as possible.” That comes through rather authentically and even though he rewrote some of the script from Brad Ingelsby, he shines in the shot selections, the look and feel of the film and the casting choices. Apart from that, there are questions on the consistency and pacing of the movie.
The Lowlights: Forget about the traditional narrative revenge films like ‘Faster‘. This is not one of them, it’s more a drama with revenge sprinkled upon it. It happens that sometimes we stumble on these interesting films premises with big name stars and a riveting trailer, then we watch the movie and it doesn’t quite manage to reach its potential of greatness. That is what happened with Out of the Furnace. But why? The script is almost always the culprit. For example, the film begins with a shocking, monstrous opening scene from Woody Harrelson that sets the tone and energy for the rest of the film, then character development kicks in and it slows down, then it drags in some places, then it takes its time reflect, then we’re hit with a frustrating, inconclusive ending, as we are then obligated to ask people around us, “what was that final scene about?” Director Scott Cooper gave us so much promise with the electric opening sequence only to contain that energy to a mostly fixed hum. There are no legendary performances here, not even from Christian Bale, who this year, has decided to play everything he touches safe and lukewarm. Woody Harrelson, who is the real star of the film, ran out of great character material to make an argument for Best Supporting Actor.
Pay or Nay?: Nay it. Out of the Furnace shows some very good moments, but ultimately it fizzes out and isn’t memorable. There are better films about war, torture and revenge that are better. Try the classic ‘Deer Hunter‘ that should get the job done.
Rated: R for strong violence, language and drug content
Release Date: December 6, 2013
Screenplay: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper
Director(s): Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Boyd Holbrook, Dendrie Taylor, Tom Bower
Distributor: Relativity Media
Film Genre: Drama