The first time I saw the preview for Out of the Furnace, I wanted to see it. A gritty movie with Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, and Zoe Saldana; I'm in.
The story started off well. Two brothers, one who's plan his life around living in this small industrial town and accepted his fate, the other whose trip to and from Iraq has left him very confused. Bale's character constantly bails out his younger brother, and it ends up costing him his way of life. This movie ultimately is driven by performances and characters. There is not much by the way of plot, but each scene is propped up by some fantastic performances.
Casey Affleck puts together a fantastic portrayal of a man beaten both physically and emotionally from life after war. He's not always subtle, but each nuance of the character is well delivered. Harrelson is a psychopath that only acts more manic by his heavy drug use. I have to admit that it is extremely unfortunate that Harrelson plays this character so well, being a druggy and all, but it feels like a role he is meant to play. Finally, Bale's character is the glue of the film. He ties everything together to make one homogeneous flow.
Again, not that this movie contained a spectacular plot or contained any characters you truly pull for, but each performance is so well done, you do end up wishing them well. This is not a happy movie, it is gritty and no one deserves redemption, but it holds you tight from start to finish.
I don't know why Rotten Tomatoes shows it so low a score, MetaCritic appears a bit better, but don't let these fool you. If you want to see some of the best performances of 2013 then Out of the Furnace is a must see. Just like The Hobbit, the end credits comes with a killer song.