The premise of Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper's new thriller Out of the Furnace is relatively straightforward: army veteran Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) disappears whilst taking part in illegal bare-knuckle fights organized by a notorious Rust Belt crime ring, and his brother Russell (Christian Bale) sets out to confront psychopathic head honcho Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) and bring Rodney back home, no matter what it takes.
Of course, some of the greatest films ever made have had simple stories at their core, and Out of the Furnace does look pretty fantastic so far. Perhaps it's just the artful editing of this new extended TV spot to the haunting cover of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," which was also used in the second full trailer, but just based on the talent involved and the footage shown so far, Out of the Furnace can be counted among December's unmissable releases.
In addition to the two brothers and Harrelson's violent crime lord, the cast also includes Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Russell's partner, Forrest Whitaker as a local police officer who has to break the news that the cops can't help Rodney and Willem Dafoe as another member of the crime ring. Much of the cast list reads like a who's-who of Oscar nominees and winners, and Out of the Furnace contains plenty of Oscar-favorite elements that could easily earn it a few more nominations next year.
The film is set for release in the quieter early days of December, before the holiday season kicks off with big titles like The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and while those in search of something fun to watch might be put off by the sobriety of the trailers, Out of the Furnace looks like it will be a worthy follow-up to Cooper's impressive feature debut, Crazy Heart.
Out of the Furnace is also going to be a useful tool in future games of Six Degrees, since it stars a former Batman (Bale) playing the brother of the new Batman's brother (Affleck), who is now currently filming sci-fi thriller Interstellar for The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan. If only Batman himself could just drop in and sort out DeGroat's gang, the Baze brothers' life would probably be a lot easier.
Out of the Furnace arrives in theaters on December 6th, 2013.