Out of the Furnace review

Scott Cooper's blue collar drama starts with a bang as Woody Harrelson's Hillbilly criminal Harlan unleashes his anger issues on the woman who accompanied him to the drive-in, and then on another patron who tries to come to her rescue.

From there things don't get much more cheerful as the focus shifts to steel mill worker Russell Baze (Christian Bale), a generally decent guy who makes one stupid mistake and ends up in jail. By the time he gets out his girlfriend Lena (Zoë Saldana) has left him for a local cop (Forrest Whitaker) and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) has returned from another tour in Iraq with a bad case of PTSD.

We won't spoil how all of this ties back to Harrelson's Harlan, but suffice to say it isn't pretty. This is grim, terse stuff, which would be almost unbearable if it wasn't for the excellent performances and the palpable sense of place the film generates. Just don't expect a happy ending.

Picture: Out of the Furnace's visual style is the perfect match to the story's tone. Dark, drab and relentlessly oppressive, it's easy to see the challenges the material would have presented when it came to bringing the movie to Blu-ray.

The good news is that Lionsgate has done a magnificent job with the AVC 2.40:1 1080p image. While the colour palette is understandably muted, contrast and clarity are both excellent, resulting in a finely detailed encode. In addition, subtle gradations in tone are free from the sort of banding and artefacting that frequently affect similarly monochromatic imagery.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: As the director is keen to point out in one of the disc's featurettes, music plays a significant role in establishing the mood of Out of the Furnace, and this is just one of the strengths of the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. The mix also makes good use of the surround channels for atmospheric effect, while dialogue is high in the mix (even if there's an tendency for some of the cast to mumble their lines).
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: Special features are thin on the ground on this Blu-ray release. Inspiration (four minutes) lets the cast discuss the films and actors who inspired them to get into the business. Scott Cooper (seven minutes) profiles the film's director and discusses locations and themes. Crafting the Fight Scenes (five minutes) has the stunt director discuss choreographing and shooting the bare-knuckle bouts. Finally, The Music of Out of the Furnace (nine minutes) does what you'd expect.
Extras rating: 1.5/5

We say: Despite the lack of extras this is a technically-accomplished disc for a bleak and uncompromising film

Out of the Furnace, Lionsgate, Region B BD, £23 Approx