The Freedom Crossroads
Russ Baze (Christian Bale), like his father, has gone to work in the mill and he is etching out a nice little life out for him and his girlfriend Lena (Zoë Saldana). But one night having visited John Petty (Willem Dafoe) to secretly pay off his younger brother Rodney's (Casey Affleck) debts he ends up in a car accident and as he had reluctantly had a drink ended up doing time when the other driver died. When Russ gets out he finds things have changed; his father has passed away, Lena is now in a relationship with Police Chief Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker) and Rodney, wanting more than life working in the mill, has started doing fights for John Petty. When John and Rodney take a trip across the border for a fight arranged by the dangerous Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) things don't go well leaving Russ facing a big decision over seeking justice and his freedom.
Let me just say that there is no denying Christian Bale is a hugely talented actor, capable of turning his hands to roles which would leave some actors a nervous wreck. But some times for me Bale's desire to stretch and prove himself has lead to him taking some movies which have been hard to watch, not because of Bale but because of the director's influence on the movie. Fortunately that isn't a problem with "Out of the Furnace" as whilst director Scott Cooper has delivered a rich looking movie it is also a straight forwards movie which works for those whose cinematic choices are more commercially orientated.
As such we have Christian Bale playing honest hard working Russ who made a mistake, paid his due and now finds himself putting his freedom in jeopardy due to his brother getting involved with the wrong crowd. And as such whilst we work through this storyline which repeatedly establishes that Russ is a good guy, secretly helping out his brother, not shooting a deer when the opportunity arises and so it all comes down to what will he do if the opportunity presents itself to get justice. As I said, "Out of the Furnace" is commercially orientated and whilst there is depth there is no complexity, nothing to cause you to question anything which presents itself.
Now I've already mentioned what a talented actor Christian Bale is, always seeming to immerse himself in the character he is playing so it never feels like he is just recycling what he has done before. But "Out of the Furnace" is one of those movies where it is the collective talent of the easily recognizable cast which makes it easy to watch and entertaining. Each actor be it Zoë Saldana or Woody Harrelson brings just the right amount of acting skills to their roles to make their characters interesting but never too big for the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Out of the Furnace" is a fine piece of movie making, taking an easy to follow storyline and bringing it to life with some style but not to the point that the style or any of the acting over powers the movie.