Out of the Furnace

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Out of the Furnace Movie Poster Image
Strong performances in grim, violent revenge tale.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
The movie tells a simple revenge story. A man decides to exact his own justice when the law fails him. He learns no lessons, and everything ends in despair.
Positive Role Models & Representations
The main character tries hard to be a good person, fails on all counts, and winds up having nothing in his life but violence and revenge.
Violence
Some of the sequences involve underground, bare-knuckle boxing, which is brutally violent and bloody. Characters go crazy and pummel their fallen opponents, resulting in gory injuries. There is a brutal prison fight. Characters are smashed in the face with guns. One character is a vicious psychopath who beats up innocent bystanders and murders characters in cold blood (with guns). In one scene, he treats a female date roughly, grabbing her and throwing her to the ground. We see an auto accident, and a bloody head is visible through the wrecked car window, as well as a pair of immobile, child's feet. A character tells gruesome stories about the Iraq war. Hunters gut and clean a dead deer.
Sex
A loving couple is shown waking up in bed together. They talk about having a baby. Later, the woman mentions that she's pregnant by another man.
Language
Very strong language includes mainly uses of "f--k" and "motherf--ker." "S--t," "c--t," "Goddamn," "son of a bitch," "balls," and "swear to God" are also used. A middle finger gesture is used.
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character drives drunk, causes an accident, and goes to prison. A supporting character is a drug dealer. He injects some kind of unknown drug (with a needle and spoon) that seems to give him energy. "Glass" (crystal meth) is mentioned as drug for sale. The main character buys drugs as a means of finding the bad guy. Most characters are seen drinking fairly often, mostly beer and whisky, but sometimes other hard liquor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Out of the Furnace is a revenge thriller set in steel mill town in Pennsylvania near the Appalachians. It features some bloody, gory violence, mostly in the form of underground, bare-knuckle boxing matches. One character is a psychopath who beats up, shoots, and/or kills several characters. He also roughs up a woman. The main character drives drunk, causes an accident, and goes to jail. Characters drink a good deal of beer and whisky, and the bad guy is a drug dealer, and hard drugs are sometimes shown and/or discussed. Language is very strong, with fairly frequent use of "f--k." Sex is not an issue, though there is a loving couple shown, and the woman is said to be pregnant. The movie's strong suit is its acting, and it may enthrall some older teens, but it's not recommended for younger viewers.

User Reviews

Adult Written byBestPicture1996 July 18, 2014

Grim, bleak film with strong acting work

You know any movie the selective Christian Bale chooses has to be of at least some substance, and this is a pretty good movie. Scott Cooper maintains his curren... Continue reading
Adult Written bywhysoserious2 September 10, 2015

Grim and violent revenge story

I had high expectations but I found the movie pretty boring. It was really slow in the beginning but later it became more interesting. Extremely violent - bruta... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah December 28, 2013

Perfectly acceptable. But nothing more.

This is almost like two different movies, not so much because of narrative, but because the first half is sketchy as hell and actually really boring. Nothing ab... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byStevie111 December 6, 2013

Quite sad story but good showing of just how much hardsjip one man can take

The movie told a sad story of what it's like for all of a man's favorite things crumbling around him. Graphically violent and intense, and there is st... Continue reading

What's the story?

In a Pennsylvania small town, two brothers struggle to make ends meet. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works at the steel mill, even though his father lies dying after a lifelong career in the same place. Russell's brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and now fights in underground bare-knuckle boxing matches for money. After Russell gets arrested for drunk driving, and loses his loving girlfriend (Zoe Saldana), Rodney becomes involved with a dangerous gambler and drug dealer, Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). Harlan lives in the Appalachian Mountains where normal laws do not apply, and so Russell finds he must venture into unknown territory to find justice for his family.

Is it any good?

The performances of the entire cast iin this film easily rank with their best work. Former actor Scott Cooper made his directorial debut with Crazy Heart, which won a long-deserved Oscar for actor Jeff Bridges. Cooper follows that film with his second directorial effort, OUT OF THE FURNACE. It's another exercise in superb acting, even if it's sadly lacking in the storytelling department. It's sometimes confusing, glossing over simple details. For example, it's not clear at first why Russell goes to jail, and it's unclear just how long he's there.
 
Cooper succeeds in establishing a deliberate, gritty, moody pace, reveling in a small-town atmosphere. Unfortunately, this pace does not serve the simple, pulpy revenge story. It drags on too long, and it's too grim; the climactic chase appears to be unfolding in slow motion. However, the tone does help to establish the strong characters. Woody Harrelson in particular makes a memorable backwoods villain, vile, vicious, and unpredictable. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's intense violence. Is this kind of violence meant to thrill, or is it meant to establish a certain kind of mood?
  • Why do the characters in this small town seem to drink so much alcohol? How realistic is their behavior while drinking and the consequences that result?
  • Why are revenge stories so satisfying? What is gained by revenge? What is lost?

Movie details

For kids who love drama

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