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A History of Violence (2005)

Tom Stall had the perfect life... until he became a hero.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18


A History of Violence is one of those films that received both a huge critical acclaim and also became a cult classic that almost everyone owned. In my opinion though, it’s not as good as some people might say.

The story follows Tom Stall (Mortensen), a mild-mannered family man who lives with his lawyer wife Edie (Bello) and two kids (Holmes and Hayes) in small-town America whilst working in a diner. His idyllic existence is shattered when he apprehends an attempted armed robbery in the diner and becomes a local hero. This unwanted attention brings him to the attention of some nasty types (Harris and Hurt) whom, it is alleged that he has had shady dealings with in the past.

A History of Violence has a solid, fast plot that for most of the film is very engaging. The shocks and surprises come out evenly and interestingly when it’s certain that things aren’t quite right. Some scenes are hugely powerful and dramatic as they ask compelling questions about moralilty, guilt and the allure of violence and the direction is typical Cronenberg as no punches are pulled with strong yet neccessary violence and sexual scenes. Once the revelations are out the way however, the movie loses momentum, veers into a messy non-sensical climax and comes shuddering to a halt way too soon.

Viggo Mortensen is perfectly cast as the chameleon with ever-changing personalities but overall the acting is cheesy and exaggerated to say the least with the main culprits being the Mom and Son. Sure, this is done to set the scene and show the Stalls as a lovely all-American family but it remains too cringeworthy to be effective. The critical praise for A History of Violence was a little over-the-top, especially the Oscar Nomination for William Hurt’s extremely brief appearance.

It's Got: Some good acting, some poor acting, some melodrama and some quality writing

It Needs: More consistency

DVD Extras The 'Platinum Series' release includes a candid commentary by Cronenberg hat fans of his will love, 'Acts of Violence' making of documentary, three extra fairly interesting featurettes on a range of minor issues - a very good package DVD Extras Rating: 9/10


Certainly engaging, intelligent and compelling at times but not quite good, consistent or believable enough for the wealth of praise heaped upon it.