Thursday, March 20, 2014

Film Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

Out of the Furnace (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (20th Century Fox)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...Out of the Furnace is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated films of 2013."

Hardworking and honest Russell Baze (Christian Bale) spirals into a criminal underworld, led by the vicious Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), when his younger brother, Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck), goes missing...

Out of the Furnace follows Russell Baze and his brother. From the beginning, we're introduced into their lifestyles and their relationship. Russell is hardworking and honest, while Rodney looks towards the fast track, regardless of the danger. Russell works as much as possible in the mill to provide for himself and his brother, while Rodney gambles and sees a startup in underground fighting. Unfortunately, and not until the middle of the movie or so, Rodney gets into a messy deal with the psychopathic Harlan DeGroat and his gang up in the mountains -- a place with its own justice system and out of the certain jurisdictions. The second half of the film follows Russell as he tries to piece together the event of his brother's disappearance and as he attempts to confront DeGroat with his own brand of justice. The conclusion is setup perfectly to leave you on the edge of your seat.

Out of the Furnace is a character study disguised as a thriller. The characters are carefully developed through dialogue and action, especially Russell and Rodney. And, as the film progresses, both characters evolve -- some great character arcs. It also helps that the characters feel so real and relatable; I know the performers aren't part of the lower working class, but the characters they embody are very honest and recognizable. Don't let the term "character study" scare you, though, Out of the Furnace offers much more, as well. There is great tension amongst the characters that's developed through dialogue and performance, and that's a fantastic accomplishments. The tension is often dreadful and masterfully developed, creating a dense and immersive atmosphere. I'm not a film student or a professional film critic, but I like to call it "action dialogue" as it creates a sense of action and thrill through, well, dialogue. The story occasionally feels compressed, though, as there are many significant events, especially during the first 30 minutes, and the film weighs in at a light hour and 50 minutes.

The entire cast is magnificent. Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, and Woody Harrelson are outstanding showstoppers with their fantastic performances. Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker play smaller roles but offer great support. Next to Prisoners, Out of the Furnace is one of the best acted films of 2013. The music is superb in creating both a distinct identity and great emotion -- whether it be somber or tense, the music amplifies the feelings of the film greatly. The film is beautifully shot, as well, capturing a great setting and mood. Director Scott Cooper helms Out of the Furnace and delivers a multilayered thriller with great character depth; he also pulls so much out of the superb cast.

Overall, Out of the Furnace is a fantastic thriller. The film's focus on character help amplify the tension and thrills tenfold, and create a more effective film overall. It's incredibly entertaining, technically superb, and magnificently performed. There is some compression during the first 30 minutes, since it has so much to tell, but it's not too detrimental to the experience. Considering it's mediocre box office draw and decent critical reception, Out of the Furnace is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated films of 2013.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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