Out of the Furnace

Rated 3.0

In the opening scene of Out of the Furnace, Woody Harrelson's slimy backwoods crime boss shoves a hot-dog wiener down his date's throat, and then savagely beats the man who comes to her aid. The movie doesn't get any more lighthearted from there, endlessly wallowing in cruelty and stylized suffering. There are powerful moments, but just as often, the film feels exploitative and false. An unimpressive Christian Bale stars as Russell Baze, a blue-collar worker in a burned-out husk of a Pennsylvania mining town. When Russell's shifty younger brother Rodney turns up missing after a backcountry boxing match, the increasingly disconnected Russell defies the law to find him. While director Scott Cooper may court comparisons to The Deer Hunter, he can't match that movie's gritty mythological mystique. Out of the Furnace tries to stand on the shoulders of giants, and settles for a piggyback ride.