Out of the Furnace

Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart (2009) was the ticket to an Oscar for Jeff Bridges, and after four years the writer-director follows it with another actors’ showcase, getting potent work from Casey Affleck and Christian Bale as loving brothers on divergent paths in working-class Pittsburgh. Following a prison term, Rodney (Bale) works at the mill like their late father and tries to put his life back together; still full of war after multiple tours in Iraq, Russell (Affleck) starts earning cash as a bare-knuckle fighter out in the mountains, competing in matches run by a local scumbag (Woody Harrelson at his most intimidating). The macho drama is nicely drawn for most of the movie, with a genuine sense of hard times in millennial America, though Cooper lets it drift into the sort of revenge plot that propels innumerable action movies. With Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, and Forest Whitaker.