You can’t fault Out of the Furnace for lack of ambition. This thick-sliced melodrama covers economic recession, the effects of the Iraq war, drug crime, the decline of American industry and brotherly devotion. Also, the main character spends part of the movie in jail.
That protagonist is Russell Baze, played by a lean, scraggly-bearded Christian Bale. Despite his jail stint — a curious plot turn that mostly serves to separate him from his onetime girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) — Russell is the good brother, a hard-working guy who labors at the failing steel mill and tries to keep younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) out of trouble.