While the holiday season is typically filled with family-friendly movies about Christmas and miracles, Relativity Media took an entirely different route with Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace. “It’s not an uplifting holiday movie but it wasn’t meant to be,” said Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, 44.
Produced by Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio, Out of the Furnace brings life to the Braddock, Pennsylvania area.
Set in the Pittsburgh suburb, steel mill worker Russell Blaze (Bale) is hit with several personal and domestic setbacks. Russell’s ailing father is on the brink of death and his younger brother, Rodney (Affleck) suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving a tour in Afghanistan. Rodney gets caught up with an illegal ring of bare-knuckles fighting led by rough neck Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson).
Out of the Furnace was Taken (2009) without the fancy trimmings of technology and supreme martial arts skills. Christian Bale’s character takes matters into his own hands to preserve and avenge his depleting family. The movie is authentic and genuine, capitalizing on the life struggles of blue collar working people.
Fetterman said Out of the Furnace is “incredibly powerful and beautifully acted, particularly Casey Affleck. I thought he did an amazing job.”
Woody Harrelson also provides a stellar performance as a tough New Jersey underground fighting ring leader. Nothing like the clean-urban, hip look in White Man Can’t Jump (1992), Harrelson’s character dominates a drug filled, careless life attitude. He masters the role from beginning to end.
Many locals, including my son, Zaire, took on small, extra roles to contribute to the hometown feeling while maximizing on what’s left of the steel mill industry. In the movie, Braddock Avenue, which is Braddock’s Main Street, looks great. As the street runs through the entire city, the movie displays Braddock Avenue as the Mecca, or meeting place, for all Braddock residents.
Similar to Detroit and the automobile industry, Mayor Fetterman sees the “economic set back” due to the de-industrialization process with the area’s steel mills as a relevant topic within the movie. Out of the Furnace makes several references to the dying steel mill industry in Braddock, more specifically, the limited job resources if the steel mills completely shut down and outsource. Fetterman refers to the famous saying about the economically strapped cites, “the rich get socialism and the poor gets capitalism.”
Despite Braddock’s economic drought, abandoned buildings and population decline since the 1920s, its residents, community leaders, politicians, including Mayor Fetterman are rejoicing at the national exposure from the movie.
3.5 STARS: Most of my biased excitement merely sat on the foundation of seeing my only son on the big screen. But, Out of the Furnace, has a semi-gruesome tale of one man’s journey for societal redemption and family-invoked revenge. Ultimately, the movie’s uncovering of Braddock further helps the revitalization efforts to restore the historical city limits of 15104.
My son, Zaire, on set of Out of the Furnace with Zoe Saldana