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John Serba’s “Bleak Revenge Thriller” Charms and Thrills in Equal Measure

In response to John Serba’s 638‑word review of Out of the Furnace on

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John Serba offers up his critique of the new Scott Cooper film in “‘Out of the Furnace’ review: Christian Bale carries bleak revenge thriller with charismatic performance” and it bears all the telltale marks of a Serba piece: priceless wit, wonderfully fluid prose and genuine critique. He’s an absolute master at winning readers over in seconds flat with warm and witty prose, and Bleak Revenge Thriller is no exception.

Serba opens by describing Out of the Furnace as one of the country songs from Cooper’s previous film, Crazy Heart, a blindingly brilliant premise which he then milks for comic gold.  

Serba does waste some of the good will he’s bought with this beautiful open, though, by devoting a little too much time to plot summary. There’s nearly four paragraphs of it (in a six paragraph review) and, even with his gorgeously silken prose to bolster it, the piece sags, losing some of its hard-earned stride as a result.

Then, in typical Serba fashion, he hits the film with six nearly perfect sentences of criticism that are both disarmingly charming and profoundly insightful.  

This closing lifts back into greatness whatever parts may have once dragged and, in the process, redeems the entire piece.     

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation