By Chris Nashawaty
Updated December 18, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Kerry Hayes

Life is cheap in Braddock, Pa., a boarded-up rust-belt town of closing steel mills and busted dreams. The only thing left to count on is family. That’s the message that Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace returns to with harrowing frequency and force. Like 1978’s The Deer Hunter, Cooper’s devastating death trip nails the bond between two no-hope men pushed to violent extremes. Christian Bale’s Russell is a decent ex-con who can’t catch a break. Casey Affleck’s Rodney is his scarred younger brother, who’s just back from Iraq and is easy prey for Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a skeevy sadist who dangles quick cash to get Rodney to brawl in a bloody bare-knuckle fight. When Rodney vanishes, Russell follows his trail deep into the Appalachians to make DeGroat pay. All of the actors (including Zoë Saldana as Bale’s ex) are remarkable. But it’s Bale, and his almost biblical quest for justice, who burns his way into your soul. A-

Out of the Furnace

  • Movie
  • R
  • 116 minutes
  • Scott Cooper