You would never see Christian Bale equally happy with Out of the Furnace
It appears that when I entered the theater, I really watched two separate movies – one was pretty bad, and the other was an utter travesty. The revenge-flick component, as falsely advertised to be what Out of the Furnace is all about, sort of works like this: Christian Bale goes after Woody Harrelson, who plays a psychotic hillbilly wacko backwoods hinterland peckerwood nut-job, based on some bizarre stereotype about what Ramapough Mountain inhabitants must be like. Apparently, this means that Harrelson is a slave owner living in the 1800s that also sells drugs and runs a fight club on the side – and honestly, it would be a waste of time to explain why this is ethnically incorrect. The other movie is about Christian Bale's bad run with lady luck, and could have been something interesting, but is repeatedly bogged down by the first movie. Overall, Out of the Furnace is more of an awkward experience than anything else, as the audience realizes what missed potential there was.
The first half of the movie is a prelude of sorts, but fails to set up an atmosphere or depth for the second half to reap; when Christian Bale eventually goes to take revenge for his brother, there is little reason to care, because neither his character nor his brother's are developed or sympathetic. Casey Affleck, portraying said brother, certainly does so impressively, but is ultimately wasted because his character is almost as one-dimensional as Harrelson's – the sole exception to this is a single scene in which the two brothers argue about the woes of the working man, but that idea is never revisited nor its implications later given significance. Maybe if Out of the Furnace had been willing to focus more on themes such as this more extensively, there would have been some substance to the movie – but as it stands, you're left with a whole lot of bad build-up leading into a predictable revenge sequence.
And as far as that revenge sequence goes... well, Forest Whitaker, who is apparently the only cop in the entire town, shows up, according to stereotype, right as Bale is about to pull the trigger. For reasons left unexplained, Whitaker decides he's pretty much just going to let Bale do it, and then proceeds to do nothing as Bale murders Harrelson. You come to wonder – why did this cop, whom the camera made it a point to show has no regard for his police car, stop a hundred feet from Bale, as if out of fear? And why didn't Whitaker simply shoot Bale, since the latter's back is turned on the former during the entire scene? For bonus points, maybe you can explain to me what the epilogue is attempting to show – that Christian Bale became a drug addict? That he never went to jail on top of not being prevented from committing murder? Your guess is as good as mine. All I can say is that when Bale finally exhaled, after putting Harrelson down, I sighed similarly and wondered why I didn't walk out.