Rust belt life is rough for the brothers played by Christian Bale and Casey Affleck in Out of the Furnace, and it only gets rougher when they're forced to endure an incursion of downplayed macho movie clichés.
Director Scott Cooper, scripting with Brad Ingelsby, excels at detailing a weary blue-collar culture, but does it no favors by contriving a pulpy fraternal imperative for vengeance as dramatic justice. This fake-tragic framework feels like a real imposition: It's all so classy and exactingly authentic, but then it's also just a melodrama. As a war-haunted soldier and trouble-seeker, Affleck has one great and terrifyingly lucid moment, but the rest seems like familiar posturing. Wise older bro Bale simmers very sympathetically, meanwhile, more or less holding the movie together even as its lingering rhythm devolves into lethargy. Zoe Saldana does what she can with a brief appearance as a token girlfriend who got away, but this movie is no place for femaleness.
With music by Eddie Vedder and a supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard and Woody Harrelson in ridiculous redneck-monster mode, Out of the Furnace adds up to a big old rusty heap of manly anguish.