Christian Bale’s first foray into film since his Batman days sees him struggle to hold down the pieces of his blue-collar life in America’s deprived Rust Belt. Out of The Furnace is a brooding thriller, highlighting working-class struggles with globalisation and posttraumatic stress disorder faced by returning soldiers.

Christian Bale as Russell Baze in Out of The FurnaceChristian Bale as Russell Baze in Out of The Furnace

Bale plays Russell Baze, a hard-working, all-American family man with a proclivity for bad luck, while Woody Harrelson fits the bill as the august psychopath. Casey Affleck is Rodney Baze – brother to Russell – and is careworn following his horrific experiences on the battlefield.

The cast is undoubtedly on song in Scott Cooper’s experimental thriller. Bale, particularly, impresses; most people will remember ‘that scene’ on the bridge, in which he manages to display both elation and despair concurrently. But Affleck is a great foil for him, sporadically reaching inwards to exhume the daemons of conflict. Harrelson is acceptably menacing.

But despite that trifecta of on-screen talent, Out of The Furnace reviews argue the movie hasn’t fulfilled its potential, and the critics were undecided on its merit. It collected a below-average score of 52% on review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes.

Christian Bale Out of the FurnaceChristian Bale in 'Out of the Furnace'

“It falls so adorably short of its ambition to be The Deer Hunter that you almost want to cuddle it,” said The New Statesman’s Ryan Gilbey. “It's a picture with weight - perhaps more weight than bite,” suggested The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw. “It beats its chest in half-articulate rage. It may prompt you to go home and surf a home-shopping channel, or scour your DVD shelf for something long-forgotten starring Meg Ryan,” posited Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph.

In his Out of the Furnace review, our very own Rich Cline argued, "...this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional revenge thriller, but there's something more interesting going on here."

With the Oscar crown winding down their theatre runs, the cinema isn’t exactly a buzzing place come late January. A film like Out of The Furnace – despite the big names – probably won’t rake in the box office numbers, but if you’re looking for an interesting take on a revenge film, this might just stay with you longer than you think.

Watch the trailer of Out of The Furnace