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Out of the Furnace

Directed by Scott Cooper
Produced by Michael Costigan, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Kavanaugh, and Jennifer Davisson Killoran
Written by Brad Ingelsby and Scott Cooper
With: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Tom Bower, Willem Dafoe, and Forest Whitaker
Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi
Editing: David Rosenbloom
Music: Dickon Hinchliffe
Runtime: 116 min
Release Date: 06 December 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color: Color

In his sophomore feature Out of the Furnace, writer director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) delivers a bleak, gritty, violent revenge tale about a blue-collar family in rural New Jersey. Cooper has a knack for crafting Hollywood pictures with the “live-in” look and feel of low-budget indies; you can almost smell the smoke, sweat, whisky, mud, rust, and body odor radiating from the screen.  Much of the film’s validity comes from casting major stars in the types of roles we expect to see them play:  Christian Bale grounds the film with his Batman, 3:10 to Yuma, reluctant-tough-guy-trying-to-do-the-honorable-thing act; Woody Harrelson provides the menace by doing his Natural Born Killers, Rampart, Seven Psychopaths, guy-you-don’t-wanna-mess-with thing;  Zoe Saldana brings depth and intensity to the small, girlfriend-trying-to-keep-her-nose-above-water part; Willem Dafoe plays his usual wise, soft-spoken, slightly shady character; Casey Affleck and Sam Shepard play Casey Affleck and Sam Shepard; and Forest Whitaker plays a minor role with one of those strange speech patterns and crazy eyed looks often adopts to make his minimal screen time really count.  Each actor plays their role perfectly and the well-structured script by Cooper and Brad Ingelsby features many excellent scenes of one-on-one dialogue. Everything about the pictures functions perfectly except that it all builds to a conclusion so familiar and inevitable that it’s unsatisfying. The atmosphere and quiet moments between characters recall great ‘80s films like The Deer Hunter and First Blood, but Cooper’s movie doesn’t have much new to say about the grim realities of dying American industries, towns and values.