Appian Way, Energy Entertainment, Red Granite Pictures, Relativity Media and Scott Free Productions present a 116 minute, crime, drama, thriller, directed by Scott Cooper, written by Cooper and Brad Ingelsby with a theater release date of December 6, 2013.
As soon as the film opens to Harlan DeGroat on his date with a middle aged woman (Denfrie Taylor) at a drive in movie and the date goes horribly wrong causing a good Samaritan to possibly lose his life I knew this film was going to be violent. It is dark, somewhat slow, with a violent story line that contains a great cast, all of whom are phenomenal, accompanied with an appropriate score. Too bad for the man at the drive in (Carl Ciarfalio) that tried to do the right thing but it seems to be the way of the world these days.
Two brothers, Russell Baze (Christian Bale) the older of the two tries to live a normal life by working at the steel mill just like his father (Bingo O’Malley) did all his life. Russell is dating Lena Taylor (Zoe Saldana) and both seem extremely happy together. Rodney, Jr. (Casey Affleck) is a bit of a loose cannon, served four tours in Iraq, he gambles, owes the towns local bar owner John Petty (Willem Dafoe) some debt and always seems to find himself on the wrong side of the road mainly because he is not happy in this small redneck town of North Braddock, Pennsylvania. The brother’s father is sick and their Uncle Gerald otherwise known as “Red” (Sam Shepard) is at the house often to take care of him.
John Petty is in debt to Harlan a criminal from the high mountains of New Jersey who is known for guns, drugs and fighting. After a threatening night by Harlan at John’s bar Russ has his first encounter with the man that later in life will change Russ’s life forever. After a night of drinking, Russ is driving home and gets into a violent car crash killing the people inside the car. Sent to prison for his crime, Lena leaves him for another man, Chief Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker), Rodney his brother comes to visit but news of his father’s death leaves him feeling even emptier. Upon his release from prison the neighborhood hasn’t changed but his personal life has and will never be the same. Russ finds out Rodney is fighting for money to pay off his debts but when Rodney claims to fight his last fight this time in New Jersey little did he know it would truly be his last breath.
Russell’s life has now got even worse, he lost Lena, his father died and his brother has been killed and all he can think of is finding his brothers killer. Russ is a man of honor, he visits the crash site with flowers where he killed that family in that fatal car accident, can’t even pull the trigger while hunting deer but when he discovers his brother’s life has been taken by a low life inbred drug addict fighting man in the mountains of New Jersey all he can do is seek justice. One problem Wesley knows his plan and steps in to interfere and keep Russ from going to jail once again. Although one thing has changed if Russ can’t go to the mountains he decides to bring the mountain inbred to him and he does only to once again find a path of death upon its wake. Albeit in the end, Russ is faced with a final decision and no matter what it means for his future he decides to take justice in his own hands for the last time.
The film is nicely told albeit a bit slow and steady with a few moments of peaks throughout the valleys. I am not too sure I liked the character development in the first half hour since it made the scenes seem a bit cut up like small chapters in a book. Grant it does help to reveal what both of the brothers characters are like but in the end I just expected a bit more flow rather than the ripples from scene to scene. Thankfully the film has a nice score to accompany the dismal back drop of this small mill town environment. Apparently not too far from Scranton, PA where I grew up I can remember hunting with my brothers and stopping in some small town areas that I can thankfully say I blended in with the locals due to my hunting gear since if not I may have been the prey instead of the predator in the woods.
Either way the story is very well told but at times just a bit slow paced but not as much can be said about the acting since I thought all the lead characters were excellent. Of course Bale once again throws himself into his role and it shows in his flawless results. Affleck as well does a brilliant job keeping up with the likes of Bale. One of his most memorable moments is the words between the brothers when Russ finds out Rodney is fighting. Great to see Dafoe since I’m a big fan and he does well in this role. Harrelson is amazing showing his scary side in this role very unlike his character in “Hunger Games”, amazing how he has grown from his days on the television show “Cheers”. Saldana has a small role and is mainly a backdrop to the story line as is some of the other supporting characters including Shepard and Whitaker but overall a great cast, well executed in a very dark dramatic depressive story. Written with two and half paws out of four by Jon Patch.
Graduated from Penn State University in 1983 and landed my first broadcasting job at the flagship station to SUN Radio Network in St. Petersburg, FL as a producer of talk radio. In 3 months advanced to a network producer, then on air as a national eventually local weather reporter for the Tampa Bay area. Held a position in management as a trainer to new hosts and producers and later Affiliate Relations Manager, eventually in 1990 started hosting, Talkin' Pets. Left SUN radio several years later and worked with USA Radio Networks for 1 year. I worked with Business TalkRadio & Lifestyle TalkRadio Networks for19 years under the title of V.P. Affiliate Relations and Programming, later worked with Genesis Communications until starting a new network ATRN. Currently working with GAB Radio Network and with Josh Leng at Talk Media Network. I am still hosting the largest and longest running pet radio and internet show in the country, Talkin' Pets, for the past 29 years... My one true passion in life is to help to educate the world through interviews with celebrities like Betty White, Tippi Hedren, Bob Barker, Linda Blair and others, authors, foundations and organizations like the ASPCA, LCA, HSUS, AHA, WSPA on the ways to make this world a better place for all animals and mankind whom all share this very fragile and mysterious planet called earth. This is the only home we have so we all need to learn how to share and maintain it so that life for us all continues and evolves forever...