“There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for a brother”
Probably, the fact behind the bombing of this movie lies between the shaky subject, the not so round-up development and the lack of consistency. Otherwise, I fail to grasp why the hell a film with such a massive cast didn’t get an audience even when it reached over 2000 screens. The script was well praised around 2008 and got the attention of late Tony Scott and his brother Ridley. They got around a number of actors for the lead, including Leonardo Di Caprio who ended with production credits.
Rupert Sanders (‘Snow White and the Huntsman’) was the first name on the director’s list, as Scott brothers back out to the cameras and assume production. Finally, the role of filming went to Scott Cooper, the once director of ‘Crazy Heart’, the country life flick which granted Jeff Bridges with an Academy Award.
Out of the Furnace
PRODUCER: Scott Free Productions
Christian Bale is Russell Baze, a random fellow that works at the Mill, one of the remaining steel foundries on North Braddock, Pennsylvania. He has a younger brother, Army man Rodney (Casey Affleck). They love each other and have an excellent relationship (one of the few correctly displayed on the movie), but Rodney is no Russell. He gave his life for his country and his country didn’t pay. Fuck USA, and fuck the Mill. He won’t work there. So he throws punches over white trash dudes on illegal fights organized by John Petty (the underused Willem Dafoe) who owns the local bar and of course, is kind off a mobster, but one of those you know well and you can have a good relation. He kinda cares for Rodney even when Russell’s brother owns him a good chunk of ‘green money‘ (mountain slang). At the same time, Petty owns money to local drug dealer, ‘endogamic white mountain trash’ Harlan DeGroat (the best character in the movie, Woody Harrelson) who runs illegal fights in Jersey. For you to know how much of a douche son of a bitch DeGroat is, the first shot of the movie is introducing him, humiliating and punching his date at the auto cinema and then shitting the crap out of a dude who tried to protect his punching-bag date. So yeah, good work Cooper, we understand that DeGroat is the villain. Level Voldemort.
Things go south when Russell goes to jail for vehicular slaughter. Five years later, his sick father has passed out; his girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) has left him for the local police chief (again, an underused Forrest Whitaker) and his brother, who has returned for the fourth time of Irak, is stupidest as ever and his uncle (the word of the day? UNDERUSED Sam Shepard) hasn’t been able to get him straight.
What could go wrong, amirite?
Inside the Cauldron
So, just checking: Bale, Affleck, Harrelson, Defoe, Shepard, Saldana, Whitaker; Scott brothers producing alongside Di Caprio. Soundtrack with contributions of Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam… And still, this film sold no tickets. The problem was the argument and the director.
The theme was weak, linear, falsely gritty and with zero passion from the cast. Zero. I didn’t believe Bale a word. The jail was like a joyride for him which made him lose a few pounds. Oh! And he had a fight with some Latin gang, so there’s that. In five years. Hell on earth man. Cooper used Russell’s jail time for showing us the bond between him and his little brother. Who cares? You already established -and well- that on the first ten minutes. Russell didn’t change a bit, when it’s already common knowledge what prison time does to a person. I thought that in five years he would have gained street rep or something. Nope. He got out of jail and got his job back at the Mill.
What the hilariously fuck was that?
Ben Affleck’s brother Casey does a fine job making us believe that he is an ex-army man with troubles. And Whitaker gets a couple of good scenes that drives us to think he will derange like in ‘The Shield’. Eventually he becomes aware of the general mediocrity and tones it down. The rest are either collecting a paycheck or being poorly used by the director.
And how to be passionate with the plot? It’s so straightforward that looks like one of those Toretto’s races. There is the end line mate. No detours, no U-turns, no nothing. This is the bad guy, this is the good guy, and these are the one in between.
On the upside, the cinematography is notable. The dark tone delivered by Masanobu Takayanagi (‘Warrior’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’) doesn’t look fake. Are the faces the lights are headed which are faking it.
The score, as we said, it’s ok. Cooper got the full collaboration of Eddie Vedder with a few songs, but most of it was cut out after it seems was too damn good for the movie and it could distraught the audience (true fact). The rest of the soundtrack was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe (‘Locke’, ‘Rampart’).
‘Out of the Furnace’ is up on Netflix and it will probably gather more audience that it did when it came out. Is not a bad movie, it just doesn’t justifies all the talent in it. Imagine that you call Da Vinci, Monet, Il Bosco, Botticelli and Van Gogh and you ask them to paint your house with only white paint.
That’s when you get ‘Out of the Furnace’.