Out of the Furnace Movie Poster Image

Out of the Furnace

Strong performances in grim, violent revenge tale.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know

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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not applicable
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.

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.

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. 

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:December 6, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:March 10, 2014
Cast:Casey Affleck, Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson
Director:Scott Cooper
Studio:Relativity Media
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence, language and drug content

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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 about the second half is new, per say, but at least it becomes much more solid. The writing is meh, characters aren't terrifically developed, and when they are, it feels obliged (specifically Woody Harrelson's first scene; it's way over the top just so we know he's a horrible person). Everyone does really well, though, which almost redeems the hallow writing and loose threads. 6.6/10, okay, one thumb in the middle, average, etc.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 strong language and some heavy drug scenes. It's good, but emotional
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 current directorial theme of looking at characters seeking redemption, living on the very hard sides of life. But some of the storytelling is flawed, elements like Russell's time lapse in prison and the inclusion of the dying father (it did nothing to further the story, it just made it that much sadder). If there ever was a bright side to this though, it's the trio of male leads that elevate this material so much, especially Affleck and Harrelson. Affleck plays Randy, Russell's scrappy soldier brother with clear symptoms of PTSD..and phew, Harrelson plays Harlan, an absolute violent psychopath. He's not cartoony a bad guy, he's just a really, really despicable backwoods country villain. You'll remember their performances the most.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking