Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2013 End Of The Year Awards- Best Villain- Harlan DeGroat- Woody Harrelson- Out Of The Furnace

**This post contains spoilers**

He doesn't have superpowers or a fancy entourage with a last line of defense bodyguard, but Harlan DeGroat is a nasty and ruthless villain and a psychopathic drug lord. Harlan murdered John Petty (Willem Dafoe) in cold blood over a debt, and unfortunately Rodney (Casey Affleck) was in the wrong place at the wrong time, so Harlan pulled the trigger for Rodney's death after Petty's murder.

With one look, you wouldn't expect a menacing threat from Harlan. He doesn't a have a statuesque build, but Harlan makes up for a lack of muscles with a rugged and brutal fighting style (remember the opening scene at the drive-through?) and a vicious mean streak. There's no flash or sizzle with Harlan, and he doesn't need  complex master plans to attack his adversaries. Harlan's strategy is simple: he trusts his fists, his crew, and his guns, and he won't stop until he's last man standing. 

But make no mistake about it, the Harlan character doesn't work without Woody Harrelson's performance. The scraggly beard and the unkept appearance helps, but Harrelson showcases the essential dark side with an unflinching demeanor (and the croaky voice helps). Harrelson's timing is perfect, because he knows when to crank up the intensity for Harlan, and at the same time, Harelson shows off Harlan's cocky side with a dark sense of humor.

My only complaint for DeGroat? A weak, weak ending. Russell (Christian Bale) murdering Harlan to avenge his brother's death? Yeah, we all knew it was coming, but the tedious fiasco with Russell stalking Harlan and chasing him into an open field didn't do anything for me. After Rodney's death, you're waiting for the big one on one fight between Russell and Harlan, as Russell unleashes his bottled up rage to finish off Harlan once and for all.

Instead, a wounded Harlan stumbles around an abandoned mill and the open field with Russell following him, and they end the "chase" (using that word loosely) with Wesley (Forest Whitaker) trying to talk some sense into Russell before the fatal shot? Harlan deserved a better send-off.

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