An average family is thrust into the spotlight after the father (Viggo Mortensen) commits a seemingly self-defense murder at his diner. DVD Features: — Audio Commentary:Director David Cronenberg Commentary — Deleted Scenes:D... more »eleted scene w/director commentary
Documentary:"Acts of Violence" documentary
Featurette:"The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"« less
David M. (KingofGarageSales) from FAYETTEVILLE, AR Reviewed on 3/18/2014...
A real sleeper, "A History of Violence" tells the tale of Tom Stall, owner of a small-town diner who's married with kids; who became a real local hero when he thwarts the robbery of the diner and contemplated rape of the waitress. Totally out of character for a hash-slinger in a barely-hanging-on gathering place for the locals's mid-morning coffee, Tom permanently dispatches three armed felons; vaulting himself unwillingly into someone who's perceived as an incredible brave local hero, who was inspired by the situation into greatness.
The local broadcasts of Tom the Hero catche the eye of a Philadelphia mobster,who's convinced that Tom is really "Jerry" (previously a fellow Philly hit-man--and shows up (with two extra "made men" in case things turn brown) in Jerry/Tom's town--and later--home, wanting Tom to accompany the threesome back to Philladelphia.
So what will Tom do to extricate himself from this situation and maintain his family safety? Flee again? Fly to Philly and convince the kingpin there that Jerry's death was long, long ago that should remain forgotten in most peoples' minds; letting a sleeping lie? Or push his luck; fly to Fhilly; and wipe out the Kingpin, relying on the forged documents that successfully made Jerry into Tom seven years ago?
Viggo Mortensen delivers a supert performance; a lot of my weekend-tasks went undone, as I could not be peeled away for even a moment until the three above questions were answered--during the last three minutes! Don't miss it!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Steve D. (Racepro) from LITHIA, FL Reviewed on 8/4/2011...
This a great movie, if you are a fan of Viggo Mortensen, you can't miss this one!!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 3/24/2011...
A comic book based film that was ignored by comic fans. David Croenberg made some changes from the graphic novel that didn't make too much sense overall (largest one being the reason why the mob wanted Viggo's character), but does a decent job overall. When I first heard that Cronenberg was making a film based on this story I wasn't sure why. The story is not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. It's not bad just a somewhat standard revenge story.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Joseph M. (RoboticJoe) from TOLEDO, OH Reviewed on 8/20/2010...
One of the greatest David Cronenberg films besides Video Drome!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
One of the most unique mafia movies. Mortenson's dual personalities are well done and strangely believable. The open ending is also nice.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jean C. (Ragamuffin) Reviewed on 2/7/2010...
This was an intriqueing movie and it kept us tuned into the story. A great movie to see.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY Reviewed on 1/16/2010...
Cheap Mafia stereotypes abound in this sordid tale of redemption
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At the beginning of 'History of Violence', we meet two vicious killers who murder three people in a motel including a young child. Director Cronenberg immediately cuts to his protagonists, the Stall family, so I thought this was going to end up as another 'Desperate Hours', home invasion type of flick, with the bad guys invading the family home and perhaps terrorizing them or taking somebody hostage. Refreshingly, for a few moments at least, Cronenberg goes in another direction. The bad guys are dispatched by the principal protagonist, Tom Stall, played by Viggo Mortensen. It turns out that Stall has tried to erase his past life as Joey Cusack, a Mafia hoodlum, and has assumed a new identity in an idyllic Indiana town. But at the critical moment, while working at his place of business, a family diner, he's able to use his past skills as a made man and blows away the killers. As a result, he becomes an instant celebrity and becomes the subject of media scrutiny.
Unfortunately, beyond this point, not a lot makes sense in this film. For starters, Cronenberg admits that the media scrutiny is only a local phenomena. The truth of the matter is that such a story would not remain a local event but would be covered nationally as well as on the internet. After Mafia boss Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris) shows up on the scene, folksy Sheriff Sam Carney does some 'research' to try and find out whether Fogarty is telling the truth that Tom has been leading a double life. For some reason, he's only able to find out about Mafia boss 'Ritchie'â€”there's no mention of Joey anywhere. Now why is that? A Google search would have certainly brought up information on the brother of a well known mobster such as Joey who police are aware ripped Fogarty's eye out. Furthermore, once the media found out about Tom the hero, there would have been intense scrutiny about his background leading to the discovery that Tom is not who he says he is.
Now what about the ridiculous scene where Tom ends up seeing Fogarty's car and assumes it's heading out of town to his house to do harm to his family? Why does he start running all the way home? If he believed that the mobsters were going to hurt his family, wouldn't he have 1) called Sheriff Sam immediately and 2) grabbed a car or got one of his employees or friends to drive him home right away? Why do the mobsters attempt to induce Tom to come with them? He's standing right out on the lawn when Fogarty or one of his two henchmen could have went right up to him and shot him in the head? For that matter, if they wanted to, they could have killed the whole family right then and there.
What exactly happened to Fogarty and his henchmen after Tom and Jack blow them away? We never see the police arrive and the bodies being taken away. Wouldn't there have been even more media interest which certainly would have led to the discovery that Tom was connected to the mobsters in the past? All we see is the Sheriff come over and make some meek inquiries as to Tom's background.
While we find out next to nothing about Ed Harris's Fogarty, the same goes for brother Ritchie. They are both stereotypes of the typical Mafiosi. Cronenberg resorts to making Ritchie into a buffoon and admits that he didn't use a soundtrack during the climactic scene where Tom dispatches his brother and his minions in order to play up the comedy. Another stereotype is the school bully who is constantly harassing son Jack. How many times have we seen this type of character in poorly written films? Even worse, the bullying isn't even convincing (would a bully pick a fight just because a guy catches a baseball and the game is over?) In order to 'humanize' his principals, Tom and Edie, Cronenberg pads his film with overlong sex scenes. Worse is his obsession with showing all the blood and guts that are spilled whenever someone is shot. There's even an absurd 'DVD extra' which shows contrasting American and International versions of a scene focusing on the amount of blood that spurts out of a victim's mouth.
While technically Cronenberg is a highly competent director who is able to get decent performances out of his actors, the script he's working with is amateurish. Ironically, History of Violence has little 'history' in it at all. Instead, it's a sordid tale of redemption in which a reformed man must defend himself against one-dimensional straw men who we neither care or know next to nothing about.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Linda W. (2pink) from ELK CREEK, MO Reviewed on 1/7/2010...
This is a very graphic movie. The actual gun shot scenes are a little hard to watch and the sex scenes goes way over the top. But overall, it has a good and believeable story.
Kathryn B. (KathrynBlodgett) from JUPITER, FL Reviewed on 9/29/2009...
I found several parts to this movie that seemed awkward and a little out of place (not to mention wierd), but the otherall plot was excellent and the acting by the wife I thought was great. Viggo could have been a little more dynamic....
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Teddy B. (tigerted) from TUJUNGA, CA Reviewed on 6/10/2009...
David Cronenberg has thrilled us for years with shocking, disturbing, and violent films from "The Brood" (1979), to "Scanners"(1980), "Videodrome"(1982),
"The Dead Zone"(1983), "The Fly" (1986),
and now one of his best: "A History of Violence." (Nominated for an Oscar)
Viggo Mortensen stars as the seemingly perfect, laid-back
family man with his quiet life in the Mid-West. His dark
and shady past comes back to haunt him one night,however, when two
killers try to hold up the diner where he works. He ends up
killing both of them and the town hails him as a hero. Ed Harris
turns up at his diner later, and starts to peel away at our hero's
true identity. Maria Bello is stunning as his attractive wife who
isn't completely sure who he really is. William Hurt even turns up
as an old buddy/employer who tries to lure Viggo back in. Cronenberg
delves deep into the psychological impact that the incident at the diner
has on the family, and questions how Americans have always been a violent
people. This film also puts our hero in some very difficult moral and ethical situations in which you have to ask yourself-What would I do?
A firecracker of a film from beginning to end which isn't out to glorify
cinematic violence or to show it off for kicks. Yes, it's a very violent and bloody film, but in the realistic sense. Outstanding direction by Cronenberg, and standout performances by all the actors. I definately reccomend this one!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Cronenberg at his masterful best
A. Sandoc | San Pablo, California United States | 12/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say about David Cronenberg's latest work that hasn't already been said by film critics everywhere? My answer to that has to be: not much. A History of Violence will remind people that David Cronenberg is one of the more underappreciated film directors of the last 30 years and also one of its master craftsmen. Using a loose-adaptation (yet echoing some of the book's themes) of the John Wagner and Vince Locke graphic novel of the same name, Cronenberg creates a multi-layered film dissertation about the nature of violence. I will pause for a moment and say that the film also delivers as a taut, gripping, thriller that looks to ape the action-films of blockbusters past, but Cronenberg's skill as a director manages to keep the film above it's B-movie aspirations.
More well-known as the creator of eccentric and unusual fare with legions of fans and admirers in the horror community, David Cronenberg may have his most mainstream and accessible film to date since his remake of The Fly. In A History of Violence Cronenberg's existentialism continues to show as he probes through the dark and shadowy corners of human behavior and instinct. He posits a question of whether people as a whole --- no matter how saintly, well-balanced, and civilized --- secretly revels in the violence they see around them even as they denounce and feel uncomfortable around it. Some have seen this film as something of a historical commentary of the American history and how the nation itself has been shaped by its acceptance of violence and its many repercussions. I would say that those people are not far off the mark, but to compartmentalize Cronenberg's film to such a narrow focus is not fair to the film. Cronenberg deftly shows the brutality of violence and how its effect can be far-reaching and intimite at the same time.
As his past films dealt with the horror of the body politic (Shivers, Crash, The Brood, The Fly) and the nature of reality and existence (Videodrome, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Spider, eXistenZ) Cronenberg continues these themes with this film. Despite the gore and viscera being small in comparison to his past works, History still show the carnage and horror that violent acts can perform on the frail human body. The film also points out that people as a whole deceive themselves of the true world around them in order to hold onto the ideal and the quaint. This is really put forward by the dynamic interaction between the character of Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Edie (Maria Bello) from beginning to end. It is a testament to the excellent performances by both these actors that the audience truly believe and care for their characters on-screen. I'll have to say that this is Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello's best work to date and it would be criminal of the industry not to reward them in some way come awards season. The chemistry between these two performers is genuine, searing and very intimate. The very last can be seen in graphic detail in the two scenes of sex between the characters. One in the beginning is naughtily playful and shows how much in love the two characters still are and the second being more brutal and primal as the hidden layers of each character is slowly peeled away to show whats been hidden all along.
For an art-film masquerading as an action-thriller, A History of Violence is very deliberate in setting up each violent outburst. There's an underlying dread that permeates through each set-up. We know that something is about to happen, but its not rushed and gradually builds-up until something has to break. The violence is not your stereotypical action sequence that looks staged, but comes and goes quickly with the brutality and lethality of reality. In fact, the violence has the feel of being very intimate. Everything is up close and personal. Nothing is done from a distance and each strike and violent act painful to see, yet in all instances each scene also gets a rousing response from the audience. This is particularly evident in a scene concerning Tom Stall's teenage son dealing with a particular high school bully in brutal fashion. Everyone in this film is touched by violence in some way or another. From the very young to the very old. The final scene at the dinner table is both haunting and familiar. With all that has been going on through Tom's life and that of his family there's a sense of acceptance of the violent genie that was unleashed in the beginning and one of "life must go on" mentality.
I must say that A History of Violence has to be one of the best films I've seen since I've been watching them. For a film that is really just a revenge-thriller similar to Chan-wook Park's Oldboy, Cronenberg's latest has so many layers and depth to it that anyone who sees it are going to be tempted to talk about its themes and subtext lon after they've left the theater. Where Oldboy is like a hard kick in the gut then a devastation stomp on the neck, A History of Violence is more insidious, intimate and subversive --- like a sharp papercut just beneath the fingernail that lingers and tells one that its going to be there for awhile and there to stay. Some may end up not liking the film due to its deliberate nature or not having enough people dying in elaborately staged action sequences, but that will only show exactly what Cronenberg has been trying to show. That people nowadays have been so inured and desensitized by violence that we've come to accept it as entertainment and actually have come to yearn and need it like a drug-addict looking for their next hit. One of the best films of 2005, if not one of the best in the past decade."
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 09/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director David Cronenberg's movies glisten with a surface sheen that is always perfect. His mise en scene is often pathologically devoid of human connection or touch, though his films are always thought provoking and often scandalous in their grasp of the detritus of our lives. Is there any more beautiful movie than "Dead Ringers?" Any movie as scandalous, off-putting yet compelling as "Crash?" (the version with Rosanna Arquette and Holly Hunter). In his terrific new film, "A History of Violence" Cronenberg has it both ways: his film features a straight forward plot that he handles with just a slight out-of-kilter quality that adds crunch and bite to the story of a man, Tom Stall (the quintessential strong silent, Gary Cooper-type, Viggo Mortensen) who, when placed in a situation that requires swift and brutal force...vomits out the internal fortitude necessary from deep inside his psyche and bowels to come up with the goods to deal with the situation. "AHOV" then, is about violence, brutality and the far reaching and ever telescoping tentacles that both exhibit as they wreak havoc on Tom, his wife Edie (the luminous Maria Bello) and his family and friends. Cronenberg is dealing with some lofty and controversial ideas here: Kill someone and forever pay the price for that murder, whether or not the crime is justified or not. Commit violence and that violence colors everything that you are, everything that you do for the rest of your life. Once you take someone's life how much of you, the essence, the soul, the heart of you is gone also? Viggo Mortensen's Tom Stall is strong of mind and morals, tender, vulnerable, upstanding but ultimately conflicted. Mortensen turns in a shaded performance that not only shows up Tom's soft side but also his malevolent one as well. Maria Bello, usually miss-used in her previous films is a revelation here as Edie: intelligent, accomplished, dedicated and hopelessly in love with Tom but aware that many times being in love doesn't mean you know everything about the object of that love. "A History of Violence" is Cronenberg's "Vertigo": his version of obsession, violence and retribution told the Cronenbergian way: slanted toward the perverse...bordering on the maniacal. Don't blame Cronenberg because he is not Hitchcock, for he has learned his lessons from the master well. Blame him because he has come up with a film that is provocative and multi-layered though: one as transparent as a silk screen, just slightly out of reach...beckoning us in for a closer, scalpel-like investigation of what makes us tick, the buttons to punch to make us react and the mechanics necessary to allow us to exist. "
"We do not solve problems by hitting people! "
Westley | Stuck in my head | 11/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom Stalls, a seemingly ideal husband and proprietor of a diner in rural Indiana. Oh yeah, his family is perfect too, aside from his son being a bit passive. His wife (Maria Bello) and he even enjoy an active sex life. Into this peace come a number of people intent on shattering his world. How will he react?
"A History of Violence" is a deceiving movie. It starts with a murder, then seems to veer toward being a story about a small-town family, and then...well all hell breaks loose. The script is based on a graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke. I didn't know this until after I watched the movie, but it doesn't surprise me somehow. The film tackles, among things, the question of whether people can truly change. The twists and turns aren't predictable, but they also don't seem gimmicky; a balance most films cannot accomplish.
It's also a small film. As such, it invokes a feeling of intimacy - you quickly feel like you know these characters. When the inevitable violence erupts, it hits you viscerally in a way that most movie mayhem cannot. In many ways, the movie reminded me of "A Simple Plan"; it has that same kind of feelings - ordinary people doing things seemingly contrary to their nature. The cast is uniformly good, and Cronenberg's direction is terrific. His work here is so different than his prior films, really show-casing his versatility. "A History of Violence" is a terrific movie. "
Not exactly a big fan of it
Cloud | Canada | 04/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"David Cronenberg always does films that tend to look at human nature in a different way: sexuality in Crash and changes in personality in the Fly. With this film, he gets into what makes people violent and how far it can go, particularly when it comes to saving family members and loved ones. It's a nice exploration but as a film it really left me cold, with highlights being 2 sex scenes and a couple shots of big violence.
Tom Stall is a family man with 2 kids leaving in a small town. He runs a local diner which one night attracts some criminal attention, which Tom ends up disposing of rather cleanly. It attracts some more attention, this time from local news and including a strange guy with an even stranger eye and tells him that Tom had a much different life than he does now.
While David Lynch likes to make really weird surrealist films, David Cronenberg likes to do films that take a look at transformation and ways people react to things. These 2 will always make interesting movies but I kind of lean towards Cronenberg ones, even though I don't really watch many of them. To me it's a misstep though as the film after it ended didn't really last with me on any level.
Casting is quite solid across the board, including William Hurt, who finally puts in some menace into his "woke up too early" voice. Viggo is always great although he does have this tendency to mumble sometimes and Maria Bello is always good. Ed Harris is effective as a villain, with a very uneasy feeling you get whenever he's around.
As for the violence in the film, it's not incredibly violent. There's a couple of shots that are cringe-inducing such as what happens when you punch someone in the nose a bit too much but it's actually not as violent as you would think. The 2 sex scenes are not that graphic but it's definately not candlelight and blowing curtains, you don't really see much during them but using your imagination they'll get graphic.
After the film was over I remember thinking "what was the point of this one?". Unlike the Fly which was entertaining or Crash which was incredibly erotic in the strangest sense, this doesn't have any kick to it. It's worth a rental but I wouldn't buy it unless it was a gift from someone."
Everyone has something to hide.
Puzzle box | Kuwait | 12/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"David Cronenberg's A history of violence is a film about Tom Stall played by Viggo Mortensen a nice family man who works at a diner in his small town in Indiana, he has a wife played by Maria Bello and a young daughter and teenage son who all live a quite and peaceful life that is untill a bunch of murderous thugs end up causing havoc by threatening to kill everybody there, offcourse this doesn't go to well with Tom and he then starts to defend himself and the others taking the killer's gun and then killing both these guys in a most brutal and vicious manner like a proffesional, soon Tom becomes the town hero much to his surprise and his family who are overwhelmed and excited as news reporters are trying to cover his story.
The story might seem simple but its more complex as Cronenberg gets a deeper look into how a person reacts or is affected by violence and how it causes a chain reaction, when Tom's secret is revealed you will see how his family is affected by this, his son gets an encounter from a bully at school you have to see what happens next which I thought was totaly unexpected.
Tom's whole new life is changed as he tries to deffend his family from a bunch of mobsters led by Ed Harris's charecter who saw him on T.V. As the movie slowly unravels you get the feeling that nothing is right and that the family cannot get back to normal, the violence in the film is more realistic and its not over the top like a cartoon or anime level with blood squirting all over the place like Kill Bill cause I thought it was going to be like that once I found out that Cronenberg was directing this, but the violence is still graphic and brutal especialy when one of the mafia men gets his nose bashed into his face. The film is both a thriller and a character study as most of the scenes were realy intense although some parts were lame like the love scene on the stairways that went on for to long otherwise I thought it was great and I highly recomend this film especialy if your a David Cronenberg fan since this was one of his best films."