Christian Bale can be an intense actor at times and that works well for some of the roles he takes on. In his latest film called Out of the Furnace he plays a man pushed to the edge when his brother falls in with a vicious gang led by Woody Harrelson.

Bale plays a man fresh out of prison called Russell Baze, while he was in the slammer his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) started working for a gang of local criminals led by Curtis DeGroat (Woody Harrelson.) The gang run a bare knuckle fighting racket and Rod wants to fight in the ring as he needs the money, DeGroat tells him to throw his fight but Rodney refuses and then mysteriously vanishes without a trace, Russell feels frustrated as the cops don’t seem to have any leads so he takes it upon himself to investigate the case. He eventually learns of his brothers involvement with the crime syndicate and suspects they are responsible for the disappearance, this puts him on a collision course with DeGroat as Russell demands answers and he inevitably ends up fighting the gang. The brothers live in an impoverished mill town where jobs are hard to come by and life is tough, despite this they always hoped one day they would find a way to escape and be successful. Sadly, fate intervened and things didn’t turn out the way the brothers hoped or expected.

Russell’s investigation also causes a rift between him and his girlfriend Lena Warren (Zoe Saldana.) She wants him to avoid conflict and have a peaceful life but Russell is determined to find out the truth even if it leads to devastating consequences, this path he has taken also leads him to the local sheriff Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker) and local crook John Petty (Willem Dafoe) who knows about the crime syndicate.

The film is directed by Scott Cooper and produced by both Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio. Apparently the director read an article about a declining steel industry in a town outside Pittsburgh and the efforts to keep it going, the struggles of a small town no doubt inspired the director who co-wrote the screenplay with Brad Inglesby.

Bale and his co stars all seem to be on top form here which is to be expected, all the main cast members are experienced actors who excel in dramas and thrillers like this. Harrelson plays a typical nutcase character which is a role he can do in his sleep and he is very convincing, Saldana is trying to expand and branch out by taking on different roles and interesting characters which is to be admired. Dafoe, Shepard and Whitaker are veterans in the business and their presence in a film is always welcome. Affleck is also good and he has a talent for playing sympathetic characters who get into trouble, his relationship with Bale’s character is touching, both men have endured hardships while growing up in such a depressing place but they have always been loyal and supportive of each other. The trailer does a good job of making the viewer care about the characters even without having seen the film yet which is a triumph. The dilemma that Russell and Rodney face is a difficult one to overcome and it is easy to feel sympathy for two guys trying to survive.

There is plenty of action in the trailer too which also helps and it has a fast pace, Out of the Furnace appears to be a film that has a bit of everything including humour, drama, tragedy and action. If it can successfully handle all those elements with a nice balance between them then the film could be outstanding.

Fans of gritty thrillers about struggling people in a small town may enjoy this movie. It will be released on December 6th so have a look at the trailer and share your thoughts.