Russell Baze’s (Christian Bale) is stuck in a dead-end job at a rural Pennsylvania steel mill rumored to be closing soon. He’s not in a position to abandon the Rust Belt in search of greener pastures, between having to care for his terminally-ill, widowed father (Bingo O’Malley) and a kid brother (Casey Affleck) suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Military veteran Rodney Jr. hasn’t been able to make the adjustment back to civilian life following several tours of duty over in Iraq. In fact, he hasn’t been the same since their mother died.
Because of a burgeoning gambling debt, Rodney has agreed to participate in fixed street fights being staged by the bookie (Willem Dafoe) he owes a lot of money. Trouble is he becomes so blinded with rage after being punched, that he can’t be relied upon to throw a contest as promised.
Russell is so desperate to save his troubled sibling that he’s even willing to pay off Rodney’s I.O.U. in increments on his modest salary. But even that plan goes up in smoke the day Russell is arrested for manslaughter after driving under the influence.
By the time he’s paroled, Rodney’s disappeared, and is rumored to have been abducted out of state by a ruthless gang of drug dealers led by a sadistic Ramapo Indian (Woody Harrelson) with a short fuse. The local police chief (Forest Whitaker) is sympathetic, but has no jurisdiction in Jersey, which leaves Russell no choice but to take the law into his own hands with the help of hard-nosed Uncle Red (Sam Shepard).
Written and directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), Out of the Furnace is a gritty revenge thriller unfolding against the telling backdrop of a decaying American landscape. Thus, almost overshadowing the desperate search at the center of the story is the sobering specter of an aging national infrastructure irreversibly past its prime.
While the gratuitous violence goes over the top occasionally, the film nevertheless remains highly recommended, at least for folks with a cast iron stomach. For, the veteran cast of this character-driven splatter fest proves to be as adept at delivering dialogue as dispensing street justice.
A gruesome showdown between warring clans reminiscent of an old-fashioned, backwoods feud between the Hatfield and the McCoy families.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for profanity, drug use and graphic violence
Running time: 116 minutes
Distributor: Relativity Media
To see a trailer for Out of the Furnace, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhsGY8jZnR4