Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    Other films this year will have to sweat bullets to match the explosive power and subversive wit of David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. It slams you like a body punch and then starts messing with your head.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    Violence is in the spirit of the hardest-hitting film noir offerings from the '50s, but far more explicit. It's also in the spirit of the Western.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Ferraro
    100
    This is definitely not your typical Cronenberg. No matter if you either love his cinematic oddities, or if you’re put off by them, watching A History of Violence would prove beneficial. It’s no doubt one of the best films of the year.
  4. David Cronenberg's brilliant movie -- without a doubt one of the very best of the year.
  5. A masterpiece of indirection and pure visceral thrills, David Cronenberg's latest mindblower, A History of Violence, is the feel-good, feel-bad movie of the year.
  6. This masterpiece, an art film deftly masquerading as a thriller, seems to celebrate small-town pastoralism and critique big-city violence, but this position turns out to be double-edged.
  7. 91
    It's Cronenberg's most mainstream work, and yet it has all the power of his creepiest nightmares.
  8. 90
    Although Josh Olson's script was originally based on a graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, it has now unmistakably become a Cronenberg movie, and one of his finest.
  9. 90
    Cronenberg holds up a mirror, but he leaves it up to us to recoil at what we see.
  10. 90
    Cronenberg's movie manages to have its cake and eat it--impersonating an action flick in its staccato mayhem while questioning these violent attractions every step of the way.
  11. A ticking time bomb of a movie, a gripping, incendiary, casually subversive piece of work that marries pulp watchability with larger concerns without skipping a beat.
  12. A History of Violence poses the right question: Are those who don't study history doomed to repeat it?
  13. 88
    Seems deceptively straightforward, coming from a director with Cronenberg's quirky complexity. But think again. This is not a movie about plot, but about character.
  14. 88
    It's a punchy, straight-up genre picture, a crime drama that might have once starred Charles Bronson or Steven Seagal.
  15. Cronenberg's movie is eerily compelling and darkly humorous. And chilling - to the bone.
  16. 88
    For all the bloodshed, it's fundamentally a cold, cold fable, the icy whisper that turns every happy thing to ash.
  17. 88
    The film has the perverse intelligence of Cronenberg's other movies. It's not his best, but it is certainly his most accessible, least stagy work, obeying the laws of chronology and serving up characters whom we recognize as people.
  18. From its quiet opening sequence to its silent final shot, everything about A History of Violence is deceptive, and deceptively simple.
  19. It ranks high on the Cronenberg scale as one of his more disturbing forays into depravity.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 621 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Nov 8, 2012
    10
    It is very rare that a film is so compelling that it keeps my eyes absolutely glued to the screen from its opening sequence to its final frame. Surely, A History of Violence is one of the great films of the decade. Full Review »
  2. Jan 3, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. This movie is phenomenal: from the long take, no cutting opening to the incongruity of Ed Harris' car in the small town to Viggo experiencing a rebirth after having killed his brother, to the brilliant and wordless scene that closes the film, this movie is almost virtuoso beyond belief. This film is just about perfect. Full Review »
  3. Jul 25, 2014
    8
    This one is definitely a slow burner, but the pay off is great and as a film, it is certainly something to marvel at. Firstly, the direction from David Cronenberg is great and as this was the first film of his I have seen, it certainly makes me want to continue going through his filmography. In terms of acting, Viggo Mortensen is great, as are Ed Harris and Maria Bello. The only actor whose performance was iffy was Ashton Holmes as Mortensen's son. He struggles at times, especially when on screen with heavyweights like Mortensen and Harris. In addition, the film is filled with tension. The film may be a slow burner and all, but once it kicks into high gear, things are very interesting thanks to these very well developed characters and their interpersonal relationships. While at the end of the day, this is a movie, everything felt very authentic and you really believed these people were who they said they were thanks to great writing, acting, and direction. The film has a smalltown feel as well, which is awesome. The violence is a tad graphic, but it never feels like it is too much, which is also a big plus for me personally. Overall, A History of Violence is a good film that really highlights what a thriller should be like. Full Review »