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Jon Niccum’s “Broken Beyond Repair” Is Still Worth It Despite Shaky Finale

In response to Jon Niccum’s 509‑word review of Out of the Furnace on Kansas City Star

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Jon Niccum’s “‘Out of the Furnace’ is broken beyond repair: 1 1/2 stars” gets off to a strong start. And then it gets mean.

For the first two thirds of this intriguing review, the writing is focused and the arguments are well-made. The critic sets things up very nicely, pulling the audience along as he describes character, setting and mood. He’s especially effective in moments such as describing one actor’s “wiry vibe” as a real asset to the role. By the time the audience gets to the  two-thirds point, the reviewer has them in the palm of his hand, ready to go wherever he wants to take them.

And then he lets the hammer down, and the audience would not be blamed for feeling as if yanked rather rudely from a very pleasant dream.

First off, he seems to take affront at the appearance of three familiar performers in smaller roles in the film, as if the actors playing the three main roles are nobodies (they’re not). This is rather baffling, and always a strange argument to make, as if once actors get recognized, their careers should be over.

He also becomes guilty of giving away more than what feels comfortable. Why he chooses to be a spoiler at this point (even, admittedly, a relatively mild one), is, once again, baffling.

So is saying the film’s finale was created for “yahoos.” He’s treated his audience with respect up to this point—why stop now.

Fortunately, the last third of the review is not enough by itself to break Broken Beyond Repair. If cracked in places, the piece is still a worthwhile read.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation