SOMETIMES YOUR BATTLES CHOOSE YOU.
After serving time in prison, steel mill worker Russell Baze (Christian Bale) learns that his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck), who did tours in Iraq, competes in bare-knuckle fights. A grim drama from the director of Crazy Heart (2009) set in an economically depressed Pennsylvania borough. The working-class locations feel genuine, and the movie gets a boost from its cast who make sure that we are committed to the characters. That makes all the difference, because the story follows familiar, bloody paths and there is little credibility in how Woody Harrelson’s scummy villain is portrayed. Still, exciting on a visceral level.
2013-U.S. 116 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Scott Cooper. Screenplay: Scott Cooper, Brad Ingelsby. Cast: Christian Bale (Russell Baze), Woody Harrelson (Harlan DeGroat), Casey Affleck (Rodney Baze), Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoë Saldana… Sam Shepard.
Trivia: Co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Ridley Scott. Viggo Mortensen and Billy Bob Thornton were allegedly considered for Harrelson’s part.