Feature

Out of the Furnace

Two brothers cross paths with a dangerous outlaw.

Directed by Scott Cooper(R)

***

Don’t let the Rust Belt backdrop fool you, said A.A. Dowd in the A.V. Club. This tale about two blue-collar brothers and the bond that inspires one of them to violence may look like “a bleeding-heart vision of economic despair,” but really it’s just “a predictable, very ordinary retribution story” propped up by an A-list cast. Playing a battered Iraq War veteran who takes up bare-fisted boxing to pocket some cash, Casey Affleck “makes an extremely believable lost soul,” said Stephanie Zacharek in The Village Voice. Yet the versatile Christian Bale proves even more effective as the protective older brother. Bale is “much looser and more relaxed than usual,” letting the fire inside this good-guy ex-con build ever so slowly. Still, from the moment we meet the fight fixer brought to wild life by Woody Harrelson, we see the big clash that’s coming, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Give this to director Scott Cooper, though: The goods he’s serving “may be canned, but the sincerity with which he delivers them can make them hard to resist.”

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