A History of Violence

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7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 772 Ratings

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User Reviews

  1. May 30, 2016
    7
    David Cronenberg's ''A History of Violence'' starts off slowly, then changes into a brilliant sprinting marathon, but tumbles before the finish line. That's the best i could describe this film. The beginning is slow, the middle is truly incredible, but the third act (after a certain turning point, i wont say which, but anyone who's seen the film knows what i'm talking about) falls falt onDavid Cronenberg's ''A History of Violence'' starts off slowly, then changes into a brilliant sprinting marathon, but tumbles before the finish line. That's the best i could describe this film. The beginning is slow, the middle is truly incredible, but the third act (after a certain turning point, i wont say which, but anyone who's seen the film knows what i'm talking about) falls falt on it's ass, and it loses all of its momentum which is such a disappointment, if the ending kept the same momentum as the first and second act, it would've totally been a 5/5 star movie.

    As for the writing. I feel like it's a script written by the Coen brothers, but they had to hand it over to a serious director who doesnt like comedy so he deleted all of the light moments from the script to make a serious thriller. That's basically what it is, and it's remarkable. Also for a movie directed by David Cronenberg, this movie is surprisingly easy to watch without crazy disgusting imagery or practical effects, it's a pretty straight forward film which was interesting to see. The movie does have lots of explicit violence and 2 sex scenes, but you need to see something of Cronenberg's style in this film.

    Except for the disappointing third act, David Cronenberg's ''A History of Violence'' truly is a remarkable thriller. (The slow build up is dismissive)
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  2. Mar 6, 2016
    8
    What's this? The last feature film made by Hollywood to be released on VHS? RIP - VHS'es. No longer relevant after 2006. A History of Violence is seriously one of those violent movies that actually works.
  3. Jun 14, 2015
    8
    David Cronenberg, the director of such films as Dead Ringers and The Fly, has a reputation for being a little "out there." It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that his latest, A History of Violence, is almost mainstream in the way it tells a linear story and curtails freaky images. The movie, which is at its heart a meditation upon the meaning of identity, is not perfect.David Cronenberg, the director of such films as Dead Ringers and The Fly, has a reputation for being a little "out there." It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that his latest, A History of Violence, is almost mainstream in the way it tells a linear story and curtails freaky images. The movie, which is at its heart a meditation upon the meaning of identity, is not perfect. Although there's little wrong with the first two-thirds, A History of Violence slides onto a tangential path during its final act, and this misstep reduces the production's overall effectiveness. Nevertheless, there's a lot to admire here.

    Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a model citizen, ideal father, and loving husband. His two children, Jack (Ashton Holmes) and Sarah (Heidi Hayes), trust him, and his wife, Edie (Maria Bello), adores him. The fun hasn't gone out of their marriage, as Edie proves when she dons a cheerleader outfit to seduce Tom. One evening, while Tom is working behind the counter at his diner, two thugs come in with rape and robbery on their minds. After a brief struggle, Tom gets the gun away from one of the robbers and uses it to dispatch both intruders. He is hailed as a hero, and there is blanket news coverage. And it's on TV that Carl Fogaty (Ed Harris) sees a familiar face. Based on the evidence of his eyes, the man who calls himself Tom Stall is actually Joey Cusack, an ex-killer from Philadelphia. So, with henchmen in tow, Carl heads for the town of Millbrook, Indiana.

    Central to the film's success is the uncertainty about Tom's past. When confronted by Carl, he not only denies being Joey, but claims to have never been in Philadelphia. Neither the script nor Viggo Mortensen gives us a clue whether Tom and Joey are the same person, or whether Tom is the victim of an unfortunate coincidence. As the Stalls must deal with the new, dangerous presence in their life, they must grapple with questions of identity. What makes each of us who we are? Is it our face, or something deep within?

    Cronenberg weaves a spell for over an hour, but he proves unable to sustain it for the entire running length. The need for a conventional resolution pulls him off course during the movie's final third. Some of the most interesting characters and relationships are taken off the screen to allow A History of Violence to move in a different direction. Since the screenplay is based on a graphic novel, I suspect that the filmmakers may have had little choice about the trajectory.

    The children have their own mini-stories as well. Sarah is afraid of monsters in her closet, and is comforted by her father (who says there are no monsters) and brother (who asserts that monsters are afraid of the light). Meanwhile, Jack has problems with a school bully. At first, he backs down but, in the wake of his father's "heroic" actions at the diner, he decides that confrontation may be the better course of action. Has the wimp become an avenger? Once again, it comes back to a question of identity.

    Mortensen finds the perfect pitch for Tom. In this performance, we see a good, simple man who cares about his family and community. But we also see hints of something else - a darker, more decisive personality. During the film's first hour, I changed my mind several times about whether Tom was Joey, and a lot of that had to do with the way Mortensen plays the role. Opposite him, Maria Bello is a firecracker, the kind of actress who draws the camera's attention. Not since The Cooler has she been given this juicy and demanding a part. And, as the villain, Ed Harris is nothing short of despicable.

    A History of Violence can be seen as a thriller, but in many ways it works best during its quieter moments. As the title indicates, this is not a sedate art film. It contains moments of sharp, vicious mayhem and there is a body count. But the strength of the movie lies in its psychological complexity and depth. And, while I wasn't enthused about where A History of Violence takes the audience during its waning moments, it at least offers a sense of closure, and, in the final scene, hope. Left unresolved, however, is the perhaps unanswerable question about whether the nature and identity of a person are fixed or fluid.
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  4. Aug 25, 2014
    8
    A History of Violence is raw and compelling. This film will make you question everything, absolutely everything. And for good reason. By the end, you'll understand why Viggo Mortensen is much more than Aragorn.
  5. 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 actorThis 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. Expand
  6. Mar 29, 2014
    8
    While exploring richly thematic ideas of harm, family, and the troubled past, David Cronenberg and the case of "A History Of Violence" ultimately craft a fantastically thought-provoking and thoroughly intriguing thriller.
  7. Jul 22, 2013
    9
    This is a top-notch film. It is paced very well and the story is great. I was continuously waiting for the next development to find exactly what was going on. Combine all of this with great acting and you've got something really good.
  8. 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.
  9. Dec 16, 2011
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This movie is incredible. The sudden bursts of extreme violence, the acting, the raw sex scenes, everything is top notch. The story amazes, and the ending at the dinner table is one of the most tense and thrilling scenes I've ever witnessed. Expand
  10. j30
    Nov 15, 2011
    9
    Fantastic performances all around, Viggo Mortensen is one of the best actors around today. There's no corny one-liners from the bad guys, it's all raw and violent. There's almost something poetic about it.
  11. Jul 15, 2011
    8
    The Cronenberg trademark gore SFX are here, but so too is a great drama, characters and a story. If it kicks off feeling a little too made-for-TV (a little too saccharine on the domestic bliss angle?) , it pays off later in the adrenaline rush of sudden, brutal realistic violence.
  12. Jan 3, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand 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. Expand
  13. Oct 22, 2010
    10
    Exciting, challenging, brilliant. A film that starts in on you hard--but slowly--giving you just one long chance (a monumental single shot sequence) to get up to speed and recognize that if you ever think the story is uneven, implausible, it's because YOU aren't getting it. It's a parable, a morality play, a electrically-fast hand-to-hand combat symphony, but above all, it's aboutExciting, challenging, brilliant. A film that starts in on you hard--but slowly--giving you just one long chance (a monumental single shot sequence) to get up to speed and recognize that if you ever think the story is uneven, implausible, it's because YOU aren't getting it. It's a parable, a morality play, a electrically-fast hand-to-hand combat symphony, but above all, it's about people's wishes to be good and peaceful until they are threatened, when they wish for a savior to step between their lives and the paradox of unsympathetic evil that cannot be dissuaded. If you have ever been in that situation, you know--but may not accept, or like yourself for it--you know that you would destroy that man that threatens you. But then, how to live? Many of us chose to live by avoiding the problem (and who wants to have it?) and therefore letting others destroy for us. This film reminds us: those others that destroy for us have faced the same choice, and come to a different conclusion: they will not avoid. Are they worse for helping us live? Have you watched bullying and done nothing? Have you not been involved? Have you risked yourself for me? If not, don't condemn me for helping you live. Expand
  14. Aug 21, 2010
    9
    Um ato de brutalidade pode desencadear inumeros outros, virar de cabeca para baixo uma comunidade tranquila, desestruturar uma familia inteira, tornar alguem irreconhecivel para si proprio e pelos seus entes queridos, enfim, estilhacar o american way of life. O impeto de violencia existe em nossos genes, como em qualquer outro animal â
  15. Aug 11, 2010
    10
    For as long as humanity has existed we have always been violent we may have not been created that way but somewhere down the line we found out that violence could save us or destroy us. It all depends on if we choose to use violence as a means of salvation or as a means of destruction in David Cronenberg's blunt yet very insightful film raises thought provoking and shocking questionsFor as long as humanity has existed we have always been violent we may have not been created that way but somewhere down the line we found out that violence could save us or destroy us. It all depends on if we choose to use violence as a means of salvation or as a means of destruction in David Cronenberg's blunt yet very insightful film raises thought provoking and shocking questions about the true nature of violence and how it can affect some and change others. how sometimes a single act of violence can make all the difference, how it can change who you are and turn you into a person you told yourself you would never be. This is the story of one man, the story of one family and the story of "A History of Violence". David Cronenberg's violent, brutal and extremely intelligent look into the nature of violence is nothing short of insightful, moving and at times shocking, shocking because it delivers a story so true and unflinchingly honest that turning away from the screen, turning away from the story would be near impossible. It is such a powerful and thought provoking film that just leaps out at you at every turn it shocks and amazes with its brutal violence, it's emotional and heartfelt story of family angst and how the past can sometimes catch up with you. Cronenberg know for his gory horror films and wigged out thrillers has created a stable film of right and wrong, good and evil, life and death. Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" is not a film for the squeamish or the faint of heart what it is a powerful film experiences that leaves you with a haunted and disturbed feeling making you wish you had not seen the film and at the same also making you feel glad you did. This film calls you to watch a film that needs you to watch it to see the darkness of one manâ Expand
  16. RodericR.
    Jul 9, 2009
    9
    A very solid movie. Worth watching, well made, and despite a few minor flaws, holds your attention and makes you think. What I will *NEVER* understand is the people who give movies, especially ones like this that got multiple perfect ratings and was objectively *at the very least* a decent movie, a 0. There is no way this movie gets less than a 5 if you are being objective. It would take A very solid movie. Worth watching, well made, and despite a few minor flaws, holds your attention and makes you think. What I will *NEVER* understand is the people who give movies, especially ones like this that got multiple perfect ratings and was objectively *at the very least* a decent movie, a 0. There is no way this movie gets less than a 5 if you are being objective. It would take a hauntingly bad movie to get a 2 or 3, a 0 would mean I would rather have been beat up or my wallet stolen than see it. Expand
  17. NK.
    Apr 19, 2008
    7
    Absorbing and well made. I agree with critic, it do agree with some critic it does not add any great understanding. I guess my expectations were incorrect.
  18. jaymorris
    Apr 16, 2008
    10
    The best film of the year, hands down. David Cronenberg's enthralling meditation on violence, and the duality of man's nature and his capacity to change, recalls Anthony Mann's Bend of the River. Mr. Cronenberg has found his James Stewart in Viggo Mortensen; his performance is absolutely mesmerizing. One hopes that this masterpiece launches more teamings of this supremelyThe best film of the year, hands down. David Cronenberg's enthralling meditation on violence, and the duality of man's nature and his capacity to change, recalls Anthony Mann's Bend of the River. Mr. Cronenberg has found his James Stewart in Viggo Mortensen; his performance is absolutely mesmerizing. One hopes that this masterpiece launches more teamings of this supremely accomplished director and his new leading man. Expand
  19. JenniferW
    Jan 22, 2008
    10
    As I get older, violence becomes less and less appealing to me. Unless it has depth and purpose. Seems almost creepy to say I loved this film, but I did, because of the complex yet simply presented undercurrents. Viggo is an amazing character. He does sincere, restrained and non-melodramatic angst unbelievably well. Bello is also great. And many of the script's lines--and especially As I get older, violence becomes less and less appealing to me. Unless it has depth and purpose. Seems almost creepy to say I loved this film, but I did, because of the complex yet simply presented undercurrents. Viggo is an amazing character. He does sincere, restrained and non-melodramatic angst unbelievably well. Bello is also great. And many of the script's lines--and especially the totally silent last scene--are still going through my head. This was a really brilliant film. Expand
  20. WalterF.
    Dec 19, 2007
    10
    I hope to see more of Viggo. He is in my opinion ,a brilliant actor. His moves to save his life were spectacular and could pass for a modern day "Achilles".
  21. RaymondG
    Sep 6, 2007
    10
    Excellent, gripping film! Very complex and moving. Loved the performances of all the main characters, especially Viggo Mortensen's. His character's dilemma is related to that of Matt Damon's in "The Bourne Identity." Very taut and economical. I will remember it for a long time. Maria Bello and William Hurt also do wonderful jobs.
  22. NickA.
    Mar 27, 2007
    9
    Reading some of the reviews I'm beginning to wonder whether there are two versions of this film! This was a superb insight into marriage, betrayal, revenge and the darker side of the human spirit. It asks some interesting questions mainly just how much will we forgive for love, can we ever truly leave our past behind, can we be two people at the same time, and for parents practice Reading some of the reviews I'm beginning to wonder whether there are two versions of this film! This was a superb insight into marriage, betrayal, revenge and the darker side of the human spirit. It asks some interesting questions mainly just how much will we forgive for love, can we ever truly leave our past behind, can we be two people at the same time, and for parents practice what you preach! The inter-play between Mortensen and his wife is superb,perhaps the best scene is the understated last reel. So subtle but so brilliant. A great film and a major return to form by David Cronenberg. Expand
  23. PatT.
    Mar 21, 2007
    10
    I am generally appalled by the gratuitous violence of so many films these days, yet still I found myself drawn to the flawed protagonist. In spite of its brute force, this is a nuanced movie, with scenes of extreme violence juxtaposed with domestic scenes of calm beauty. Even the brass score adds energy and tension, and the ending was a nice touch as well, with its lack of resolution but I am generally appalled by the gratuitous violence of so many films these days, yet still I found myself drawn to the flawed protagonist. In spite of its brute force, this is a nuanced movie, with scenes of extreme violence juxtaposed with domestic scenes of calm beauty. Even the brass score adds energy and tension, and the ending was a nice touch as well, with its lack of resolution but hint of hope. Ultimately, this film appeals to that very basic human satisfaction of seeing the bullies, mobsters, and thrill killers of the world get their due at the hands of the underdog. Expand
  24. HalB.
    Dec 31, 2006
    7
    Wow, I guess a lot of recent "users"/viewers of this film just didn't get it. It's a pretty good film, and actually quite subversive in that it will appeal to many as a revenge/action film, yet is obviously making an extremely valid comment about our culture's obsession with, and championing of, violence. Viggo M, Ed Harris and William H are outstanding. I agree that maybe Wow, I guess a lot of recent "users"/viewers of this film just didn't get it. It's a pretty good film, and actually quite subversive in that it will appeal to many as a revenge/action film, yet is obviously making an extremely valid comment about our culture's obsession with, and championing of, violence. Viggo M, Ed Harris and William H are outstanding. I agree that maybe it's been overly praised, but it's still quite a good film. As with most forms of art and entertainment, some people just don't get it. And as always: there's just no accounting for some peoples' tastes! Expand
  25. JoshC
    Nov 20, 2006
    8
    Wow! I am shocked at how many people hated this movie. I do think the film was slighty overrated by the critics, however it's still a very good film.
  26. RuthR.
    Jul 2, 2006
    10
    I loved the subtlety of the performances throughout this beautifully made movie, I loved the silences free from music which allowed the viewers to think and absorb, and I loved the main character who is essentially so much like the man I am married to, and I love that I picked up in that final scene the tiny innuendo that no one else has noticed nor agrees, upon second viewing, is there. I loved the subtlety of the performances throughout this beautifully made movie, I loved the silences free from music which allowed the viewers to think and absorb, and I loved the main character who is essentially so much like the man I am married to, and I love that I picked up in that final scene the tiny innuendo that no one else has noticed nor agrees, upon second viewing, is there. This bothers me not in the least. I know it was there. I saw it, I believe it, and I felt it every time I saw it - four times now. I could never be convinced otherwise, and the fact of it and my sure and certain knowledge of it, makes me feel just a tiny bit superior. There are few things in life that I ever feel superior about - I'm going to keep this one close to my heart and try never to forget it. Expand
  27. MichaelK.
    Jun 10, 2006
    10
    From what I understand, this movie was based on a graphic novel so it definitely has that comic book feel. Watch with an open mind and don't search for holes and you'll enjoy the film. I found myself caring about each character and at times I found the movie very tense. Be warned, both the sex and the violence are at 100%.
  28. BernardoS.
    Jun 2, 2006
    10
    It´s just like Once Upon a time in the West but with a more realistic plot and great performances from all the cast (specially by Mr. Hurt). IMO this will be the movie of the decade.
  29. JohnBbarton
    May 18, 2006
    9
    I see a lot of films and don't really like that many. This was, in my opinion, the best film of 2005. My business partners both have good taste in film, and both loved the film also. After seeing so many extremely negative viewer ratings on Metacritic, (although there are also many very positive) I decided to put it to the test by having my son in law watch the film. He has theI see a lot of films and don't really like that many. This was, in my opinion, the best film of 2005. My business partners both have good taste in film, and both loved the film also. After seeing so many extremely negative viewer ratings on Metacritic, (although there are also many very positive) I decided to put it to the test by having my son in law watch the film. He has the absolutel worst taste in movie history. He loves everything really bad ( he saw40 First Dates 15 times!) and hates everything really good. ( walked out on Junebug and hated Matchpoint) I was very relieved to get his rating-he hated it! My film rating confidence is now fully restored. I'd like to hear what the amatuer reviewers who hated this film thought was a good film. War of the Worlds is probably on their top film list for 2005, and I'm sure they just love those fascinating and complex Steven Segal movies! Expand
  30. JonD.
    May 6, 2006
    8
    This movie was really really good. It was very different which is probably why so many people give it such a low rating. its either a love it or hate it movie. Let me say one thing GRAPHIC NOVEL. The violence is over the top because of this have you seen other graphic novel movies? Sin City perhaps or maybe Road To Perdistion ... the violence is over the top for a reason. That is why some This movie was really really good. It was very different which is probably why so many people give it such a low rating. its either a love it or hate it movie. Let me say one thing GRAPHIC NOVEL. The violence is over the top because of this have you seen other graphic novel movies? Sin City perhaps or maybe Road To Perdistion ... the violence is over the top for a reason. That is why some people dont understand it, because they dont know that its a graphic novel. The story is a little different as well and it probly wouldnt happen in real life but its not supposed to. Overall a very well done movie and most people will either love it or hate it. Expand
  31. S.Packard
    May 5, 2006
    8
    Is Pulp Fiction, or Terminator great for it
  32. J.Young
    Apr 28, 2006
    10
    I think A History of Violence will in time be recognized as the best film of 2005. For me, Spider was Cronenberg's first really adult movie, but with this film he has arrived as simply the best director working today; here he takes a comic book and manages to make a film that is somehow more topical than either Brokeback or Crash were. I left the theater haunted by this film in much I think A History of Violence will in time be recognized as the best film of 2005. For me, Spider was Cronenberg's first really adult movie, but with this film he has arrived as simply the best director working today; here he takes a comic book and manages to make a film that is somehow more topical than either Brokeback or Crash were. I left the theater haunted by this film in much the same way as Raging Bull had blown my mind 25 years ago (another masterpiece that didn't win the Oscar). Note, I have seen a lot of violent movies, but this film shocked me with a realism I didn't expect. What is more, the violence was not the point of the film either, despite the title. My wife thought the gangster characters were too over the top to believe; having lived in Philly and encountered real gangsters myself; I thought they were dead on. Expand
  33. JonC.
    Apr 27, 2006
    10
    I have never seen a Cronenburg film before. So I don't give this movie a 10 because of him. I would suggest that any plot holes you think you see are not signficant if they are plot holes, but they are necessary to examine the characters. [***SPOILERS***] When Maria Bello is naked, notice the awkwardness between the two previously very close people. When the son (Jack, I think) beats I have never seen a Cronenburg film before. So I don't give this movie a 10 because of him. I would suggest that any plot holes you think you see are not signficant if they are plot holes, but they are necessary to examine the characters. [***SPOILERS***] When Maria Bello is naked, notice the awkwardness between the two previously very close people. When the son (Jack, I think) beats up the bullies, it asks the question: why is it right for his father to kill in self defence, but wrong for the son? How can the father ever again justify non-vioence? The movie deals with the question: when is violence justifyable? And it makes the viewer answer it. Apply it to Iraq, gang violence, spousal abuse, any issue, and you see that violence is a central part in American culture (and to be fair, Western culture generally.) Expand
  34. EvanS
    Apr 26, 2006
    9
    "Ther are so many plot holes in this movie." I have seen this on all of these user reviews and i would like to say that there are NO plot holes. The movie is leaving us with questions we cant figure out. That's what makes it so good. It's a --psychological--- movie. Duh! And now i dont understand why everyone is talking about the sex scenes, and how that it is uncomfortable."Ther are so many plot holes in this movie." I have seen this on all of these user reviews and i would like to say that there are NO plot holes. The movie is leaving us with questions we cant figure out. That's what makes it so good. It's a --psychological--- movie. Duh! And now i dont understand why everyone is talking about the sex scenes, and how that it is uncomfortable. It has meaning to it. Both times they do it, it has meaning. Everybody is so simple minded and apathetic at really how this movie is executed. Damn good movie. Expand
  35. Al
    Apr 23, 2006
    9
    A disturbing and emotionally arousing film. Not for the faint at heart. Ed Harris and William Hurt are delightfully perverse in a strangely honest way. Even though Mortensen's multiple-personality like transformations are not entirely convincing from a real world perspecitve, he does a very fine acting job.
  36. AaronH.
    Apr 10, 2006
    10
    I can not understand how anyone could watch this movie and give it a rating below a 7. I personally think it deserves a 10. One of the best movies Ive seen because it has a mainstream entertainment quality while also creating an undercurrent of dark and disturbing feeling about the consequences of violence and how a violent past is difficult to escape. I love this movie because it I can not understand how anyone could watch this movie and give it a rating below a 7. I personally think it deserves a 10. One of the best movies Ive seen because it has a mainstream entertainment quality while also creating an undercurrent of dark and disturbing feeling about the consequences of violence and how a violent past is difficult to escape. I love this movie because it entertained me while tapping my emotions and making me think about family, love, and the secrets we all hide. Expand
  37. Sam
    Apr 7, 2006
    9
    I thought this movie was excellently acted, directed and shot. Sure, if you just want mindless violence or cheap gags then steer clear. But if you're prepared to actually invest yourself in and engage with a film, pay attention off your own back instead of expecting it to do all the work for you then you'll find some amazing themes and thought-provoking angles. There are violent I thought this movie was excellently acted, directed and shot. Sure, if you just want mindless violence or cheap gags then steer clear. But if you're prepared to actually invest yourself in and engage with a film, pay attention off your own back instead of expecting it to do all the work for you then you'll find some amazing themes and thought-provoking angles. There are violent scenes in the film, but they serve a purpose rather than being arbitrary or superfluous, like in so many films. Expand
  38. TonyM.
    Apr 6, 2006
    10
    Life is too short to have to explain this movie to people. If, however, you can appreciate that a movie can seemingly be about one thing (say, a random encounter with killers bringing a secret past to light) while really being about something much deeper (like whether or not violence can be expunged from the human soul or is passed on like a gentic flaw) then watch this movie. What Life is too short to have to explain this movie to people. If, however, you can appreciate that a movie can seemingly be about one thing (say, a random encounter with killers bringing a secret past to light) while really being about something much deeper (like whether or not violence can be expunged from the human soul or is passed on like a gentic flaw) then watch this movie. What you'll find is the best moive of 2006. Expand
  39. IgnatzM.
    Apr 5, 2006
    8
    The most incredible and shocking aspect of this movie is its ability to dredge up individuals whose only pleasure in viewing the film is their thrill in the violence. I would not suggest this movie to everyone looking for something to watch, but it was well executed and good at what it is, which is a visceral action movie about a man who is very hard to kill, very good at killing, and The most incredible and shocking aspect of this movie is its ability to dredge up individuals whose only pleasure in viewing the film is their thrill in the violence. I would not suggest this movie to everyone looking for something to watch, but it was well executed and good at what it is, which is a visceral action movie about a man who is very hard to kill, very good at killing, and weary with both. I would first suggest Straw Dogs for a film about a man pushed to viciousness, or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for an exercise in misplaced hero worship, but this movie does well enough to rate close to these movies in whatever list might exist in the minds of those who care. You know who you are. Expand
  40. AdamSinger
    Apr 3, 2006
    10
    Brilliant.
  41. BarryW.
    Mar 31, 2006
    8
    Great Story. Fight scenes are nice and violent and a great performance from vigo.
  42. WalkenM.
    Mar 27, 2006
    9
    In A History of Violence, Cronenberg sets out to criticize the very laziness responsible for the popular backlash against this incisive and compassionate film. Only those with no understanding of subtext could determine the film empty beyond its pointed exaggerations of American culture. Cronenberg problematizes the notion of redemption through brutality, ultimately questioning the In A History of Violence, Cronenberg sets out to criticize the very laziness responsible for the popular backlash against this incisive and compassionate film. Only those with no understanding of subtext could determine the film empty beyond its pointed exaggerations of American culture. Cronenberg problematizes the notion of redemption through brutality, ultimately questioning the stability of a society so willing to forgive, and even embrace, the notion of ends-justifying-means violence. Far beyond a purposeless condemnation, Cronenberg composes a cultural critique that does not insult our intelligence, exposing instead an establishing violence that indicts all civilized societies. A History of Violence Expand
  43. LanceT.
    Mar 25, 2006
    9
    The subtle tones given off by this movie are brilliant. DC has held back his usual difficult to understand plot lines and given us a character driven Marvel. Although you know Tom has been a naughty boy, you want to see him do it again and again.
  44. RussellS.
    Mar 21, 2006
    8
    A blistering, Jekyll & Hyde self-examination into the duality and casual savagery that permeates every aspect of life in the good ole' USA. Not to make a mockery of our day-to-day, but bring into closer view those ties that bind can also explode in happenstance. The enemy and terror is not some turbaned, robed desert ghost, but we in our permissive tolerance of weapons and their use A blistering, Jekyll & Hyde self-examination into the duality and casual savagery that permeates every aspect of life in the good ole' USA. Not to make a mockery of our day-to-day, but bring into closer view those ties that bind can also explode in happenstance. The enemy and terror is not some turbaned, robed desert ghost, but we in our permissive tolerance of weapons and their use as the necessary tools of the layman. Expand
  45. JordanM.
    Mar 21, 2006
    7
    Man, narrowmindedness is a bad thing. But as always, some people hate things and some people love things. This movie, i felt was a much needed break from the norm of films today with a realistic feel and a great plot that made you interested in all the character's thoughts. Although the shootout scenes are short, they are VERY satisfying. Also, the ending is a bit unsatisfying, some Man, narrowmindedness is a bad thing. But as always, some people hate things and some people love things. This movie, i felt was a much needed break from the norm of films today with a realistic feel and a great plot that made you interested in all the character's thoughts. Although the shootout scenes are short, they are VERY satisfying. Also, the ending is a bit unsatisfying, some apologies were in order from him. Expand
  46. EvanS.
    Mar 20, 2006
    9
    Richly layered character piece wrapped around brief bursts of action and violence. Sets up the viewer to root for the violence and then when it is all over graphically shows the mangled results to show audience just what it was rooting for. One of the best films of the year but don't go in expecting a Hollywood action movie.
  47. MarcB.
    Mar 20, 2006
    9
    A great B movie that raises questions many A movies dont know how to raise. Stellar performances all around, especially from the two leads. A Norman Rockwell vision of America on the surface cant hide the kill em all, Faustian demons lurking beneath the surface. Cronenberg does an excellent job of making us mentally involved in the violence and with skillful editing and cinematography A great B movie that raises questions many A movies dont know how to raise. Stellar performances all around, especially from the two leads. A Norman Rockwell vision of America on the surface cant hide the kill em all, Faustian demons lurking beneath the surface. Cronenberg does an excellent job of making us mentally involved in the violence and with skillful editing and cinematography shows the act of violence with quick and brutal speed. Can a killer change? Old habits die hard. Expand
  48. DaveF.
    Mar 19, 2006
    9
    There was nothing predictable about this, clear up to the end we still don't know for sure where's Joey. Seeing the ultra violence might have led some reviewers to make a knee jerk reaction about the movie, not giving full credit to the complexity of this story.
  49. DavidT.
    Mar 19, 2006
    8
    Its amazing how so many people just dont get it - yet they appear to be quite articulate and perceptive from the quality of their writing. A Western dressed up as a small town thriller. Over the Top but delightful performances from Ed HArris and William Hurt. Viggo demonstrates that he remains a moderately skilled actor but in so many ways its hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. Its amazing how so many people just dont get it - yet they appear to be quite articulate and perceptive from the quality of their writing. A Western dressed up as a small town thriller. Over the Top but delightful performances from Ed HArris and William Hurt. Viggo demonstrates that he remains a moderately skilled actor but in so many ways its hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. He had this effect in he LOTR Trilogy. This is a fun romp with some seriously tense moments. Expand
  50. Cables
    Mar 18, 2006
    10
    I'm absolutely amazed at some of the comments that people are writing about this wonderful film. You thought it was too violent? Here's an idea... If you dont want to see a movie with graphic violence then maybe you shouldnt go see, "A History of Violence". Doesn't the title pretty much tell you what your getting into?
  51. ChazG.
    Mar 17, 2006
    8
    A history of violence hits hard at the climactic scenes. The film also gives a decent character analysis and demonstrates how an individual can change. Overall a good movie.
  52. AdanC.
    Mar 17, 2006
    10
    Anyone who gives this movie a rating below 7, didn't get it. Trust me, I've read all the reviews. I think these people where expecting some simple movie like The Rundown or something, when in fact they got something much richer. Too bad they can't see it.
  53. Rick
    Mar 15, 2006
    10
    It's good, here's a good idea to find good movies, get the ones that are 2 thumbs up. You'll never watch a bad movie again if you do that.
  54. agoodsourceofagoodsourceof
    Mar 11, 2006
    10
    This movie is brilliant, and not in the least in a trivial way. I tend to agree with Mr. Kauffmann of the New Republic, but on this one, he has dropped the ball. What Cronenberg develops in this film is not simply a tale of violence; about its self-destructive and redemptive potential (Wild Bunch) or the media's agrandisement of violence (Natural Born Killers). Far from it. InThis movie is brilliant, and not in the least in a trivial way. I tend to agree with Mr. Kauffmann of the New Republic, but on this one, he has dropped the ball. What Cronenberg develops in this film is not simply a tale of violence; about its self-destructive and redemptive potential (Wild Bunch) or the media's agrandisement of violence (Natural Born Killers). Far from it. In fact, these aren't even central to the narrative in 'History of Violence'. The media only plays a secondary role throughout the film, and Stall/Cusack is never destroyed or redeemed by the violence. Rather Stall is closer to showing, as Kurtz does in 'Apocalypse Now (Redux)', that the facile bourgeois attitude towards violence--which allows a practical role for violence in maintaining society, either through police force or military intervention--does not track the reality of violence. The lesson being that violence does pay, provided that you are the most violent of all, and monstrously so.
    What we do see, however, in 'History of Violence', unlike other films that might be sited in the genre, is an absolute embodiment of violence, virutally invincible (like Beowulf, Odysseus, or Jack Bauer) and capable of inflicting certain death on his enemies, no matter the odds (like Ryunosuke Tsukue in 'Sword of Doom'). The substance of this film is a narrative on the ontology (natrue) of violence--it consumes its users and widens to increasing spheres of influence. Like a medieval morality play, we see in 'History' our society caricatured to mind-numbing proportions, then violence enters in real-time and changes the entire landscape: influencing more people and escalating to frightening dimensions. We can learn a great deal from this film and we are better for it.
    Expand
  55. Jared
    Feb 20, 2006
    10
    I'm sorry, if you think this movie is predictable and boring, then you weren't watching the same movie as I was. What I saw was a brilliant, haunting, shocking portrayal of the American Dream being ripped apart by violence and lies, leaving behind the ugly truth that can seeth beneath such "perfect" families. The belief that we can run from who we are and change without regard I'm sorry, if you think this movie is predictable and boring, then you weren't watching the same movie as I was. What I saw was a brilliant, haunting, shocking portrayal of the American Dream being ripped apart by violence and lies, leaving behind the ugly truth that can seeth beneath such "perfect" families. The belief that we can run from who we are and change without regard for our past is brutally ripped apart. What we are left with is a family who has to pick up the pieces and try to deal with the horrible truth revealed to them. Expand
  56. KouroshA.
    Feb 15, 2006
    7
    It had an unusual story which made it somewhat unpredictable and interesting, but the action and acting was not all too gripping.
  57. Jake
    Feb 2, 2006
    10
    Probably my favorite movie of the year. Although it was pretty obvious from the trailers that "Tom Stahl" was more than just a nice guy. Probably the best use of VERY graphic violence and gore (since Saw at least......only kidding). But seriously, the killing scenes were shocking and compelling, especially the final showdown, which I won't ruin for those of you who haven't seen Probably my favorite movie of the year. Although it was pretty obvious from the trailers that "Tom Stahl" was more than just a nice guy. Probably the best use of VERY graphic violence and gore (since Saw at least......only kidding). But seriously, the killing scenes were shocking and compelling, especially the final showdown, which I won't ruin for those of you who haven't seen it. Viggo did a great job at playing two different characters.....why was he an unknown before LOTR? All in all, a great film with a resonating message. Expand
  58. SebaD.
    Feb 1, 2006
    7
    well done Maria Bello, beautiful performance you did. Now tell me if there s someone who really believe that Mortenesen was like "the carmelita descalza"?
  59. ShirleyC.
    Jan 26, 2006
    9
    Modern classic since a clockwork orange issued. Another movie needs to think about human is evil.
  60. 2roads
    Jan 24, 2006
    8
    Excellent movie and not to be missed as it has an accurate statement to be made in the father son relationship. David Letterman was right, it grabs the audience and won't let you go...then resonates afterward.
  61. DanieleO.
    Jan 22, 2006
    9
    One of the very best of the year, a brilliant reflection on violence, and a reflection about america too.
  62. KarryD.
    Jan 17, 2006
    7
    Nice concept, well acted (by the leads anyway), but pourly executed.
  63. O.Cuculiza
    Jan 6, 2006
    10
    Brilliant. This movie ain't an action thriller. It is a complex family psycologichal drama where violence is fully justified because it refflects the minds of the people. You get to go so deep into the main character's thooughts that you can't get away from the movie until it ends. The screenplay is great (the story is told as a tale), the acting is terrific (specially from Brilliant. This movie ain't an action thriller. It is a complex family psycologichal drama where violence is fully justified because it refflects the minds of the people. You get to go so deep into the main character's thooughts that you can't get away from the movie until it ends. The screenplay is great (the story is told as a tale), the acting is terrific (specially from Bello, whose performance is one you won't forget, and of course William Hurt, wow.), the art direction is perfect and the direction itself is great. Go and see this movie when you can, you won't regret it (AT ALL). Expand
  64. DanielC.
    Jan 4, 2006
    10
    The best movie I watched this year.
  65. MichaelS.
    Jan 3, 2006
    8
    A gripping comment on the subversive power of violence. A film that hangs the negative results out to dry along with the emotional sympathy generated by Tom/Joey. This is a must see for our adult generation.
  66. TalL.
    Dec 31, 2005
    10
    One of the best movies I've ever seen, up there with "Fargo" and "Eyes Wide Shut". It is graphically and shockingly violent, but it's a movie that puts you up against a mirror, and makes you think. It's a movie you remember. It's is a movie you come back to in your mind, wondering and obsessing how much of your reflection is driven by Cronenberg's crafty One of the best movies I've ever seen, up there with "Fargo" and "Eyes Wide Shut". It is graphically and shockingly violent, but it's a movie that puts you up against a mirror, and makes you think. It's a movie you remember. It's is a movie you come back to in your mind, wondering and obsessing how much of your reflection is driven by Cronenberg's crafty manipulation, and how much of it is really yours. Expand
  67. PDignam
    Dec 29, 2005
    10
    Excellent movie.
  68. A.S.Christensen
    Dec 27, 2005
    10
    The film of the year. Great acting. It get better every time,you see it.
  69. TracyB.
    Dec 21, 2005
    9
    Beautiful film- great acting by the leads.
  70. SHFB
    Dec 5, 2005
    10
    I think the main reason so many people gave this a low-rating is that the title led them to expect your typical cinematic bloodbath. You're not going to get that with "History," although it is, in fact, quite violent. This is a movie that requires you to think and not merely to be entertained. It throws a number of curveballs - causing you to question your assumptions and I think the main reason so many people gave this a low-rating is that the title led them to expect your typical cinematic bloodbath. You're not going to get that with "History," although it is, in fact, quite violent. This is a movie that requires you to think and not merely to be entertained. It throws a number of curveballs - causing you to question your assumptions and expectations. I was blown away by the writing, acting and directing. Honestly. I can't think of one criticism. Bottom Line: This movie is not for everyone. If you aren't looking to be challenged by a movie, give this one a miss. Because if you can't see the deep social/cinematic critique and instead take it all on the most literal level, you're going to be very very disappointed, as apparently were many of these viewers. It's a shame, really. Hollywood needs more movies like this, not fewer, and those looking for, as one viewer put it, "cool violence," have far too much say in what movies do and don't get made. Expand
  71. JimmyE.
    Dec 1, 2005
    10
    It's so awesome.
  72. jennyp.
    Nov 25, 2005
    10
    Such a good film. best gangster film ive seen in years. Cronenberg handled it well. casted very well. hope to see more of the same in the future.
  73. frankb
    Nov 24, 2005
    10
    I'm not sure the voters who rated this film poorly on this website paid much attention to any of the aspects that make this film a great one.
  74. frankb.
    Nov 24, 2005
    10
    Excellent.
  75. zackseymour
    Nov 21, 2005
    10
    It's pure Cronenberg. Take it or leave it.
  76. leah
    Nov 20, 2005
    10
    One of the best movies of the year, so darkly funny that i found myself to be the only one in the theater laughing! Cronenburg has not dropped the ball yet in his lengthy career.
  77. JaneA.
    Nov 19, 2005
    9
    A brilliiant depiction of the current socialised status that violent acts have in western communities. A triumph for Cronenberg and great work from his team.
  78. VincentV.
    Nov 18, 2005
    9
    I wouldn't listen to those who give it horrid reviews. The truth is, this was a great, well written film.
  79. SeamusS
    Nov 15, 2005
    10
    Brilliant, One of cronenburgs best.
  80. cl
    Nov 11, 2005
    10
    Disturbing, an exceptionally well written and well acted piece. The end is quite disconcerting. Although predictable; it was intensely portrayed - an excellent character study.
  81. SamS.
    Nov 11, 2005
    10
    Woo hoo.
  82. MikeL.
    Nov 11, 2005
    10
    C'mon people - METAPHOR! The look of the film, the performances and the story play with/twist standardized forms from the inside out. Its supposed to feel awkward and stilted, that's the idea! The film can feel uncomfortable to watch cuz it mirrors our own superficial, hair's breadth distance from a history of the worst kind of violence. From apehood to rape to the miriad C'mon people - METAPHOR! The look of the film, the performances and the story play with/twist standardized forms from the inside out. Its supposed to feel awkward and stilted, that's the idea! The film can feel uncomfortable to watch cuz it mirrors our own superficial, hair's breadth distance from a history of the worst kind of violence. From apehood to rape to the miriad abuses of power, the human race is still in its infancy and we're still dealing with all this stuff. This movie sheds a light on a culture which was to a large degree born of violence. Its a difficult film - sometimes difficult films are good - great in this case. Expand
  83. janiej
    Nov 10, 2005
    10
    Viggo Mortensen captures this complicated character very effectively. This movie should receive a 10 for the sex scene alone. That scene is a 5 minute mini-movie conveying the complex feelings of both characters without a spoken word. Excellant film.
  84. Rev.Rikard
    Nov 5, 2005
    9
    This movie is destined for Oscar nominations. The movie, in my opinion, offers the premise that the true history of violence lies somewhere deep in the human psyche. It is such a fundamental aspect of who we are that it is as basic to our existence as sex, and so universal to the human condition that even a family can "accept it," its consequences and move on. The movie ties violence This movie is destined for Oscar nominations. The movie, in my opinion, offers the premise that the true history of violence lies somewhere deep in the human psyche. It is such a fundamental aspect of who we are that it is as basic to our existence as sex, and so universal to the human condition that even a family can "accept it," its consequences and move on. The movie ties violence vividly to the instinctual reality of sexuality and its passion; especially as is revealed in the life of the teen son. Violence dwells within him but he chooses to remain a "virgin," not acting on its impulse for reasons of moral values and fear until "peer pressure" forces him to drop his defense mechanisms and beat the "alpha male" of at school to a pulp. Once he becomes Expand
  85. JimB.
    Nov 3, 2005
    10
    A hearty stew of intellegence and accessibility. "A History of Violence" has a new home on my favorite movies list.
  86. SuzieH.
    Nov 1, 2005
    9
    Loved it! Very graphic violence & sex.
  87. MattH.
    Oct 31, 2005
    10
    I'm not going to say that everyone who disliked this film didn't get it, but it's darn close and the majority of negative comments posted here reflect in the competence of the reviewer, not the quality of the film. Best movie of the year thus far, by far. A brilliant exploration of the perplexing relationship between human beings and their violent nature.
  88. TimD.
    Oct 31, 2005
    9
    I'm not generally a fan of Cronenberg's stuff. And I'm not generally a fan of film critics. I'm with them on this one, though -- I thought it was excellent,disquieting, staying with me afterward in a way many movies do not. And I find the number and vehemence of the negative viewer reviews here to be genuinely interesting. Ah, well. To each their own.
  89. JH
    Oct 28, 2005
    9
    A fantastic movie. The ending, and how it loops back onto a previous discussion early on in the movie, is excellent. Cronenberg takes clear cliches and weaves them together into a sly, humorous movie that also pulls no punches in the violence. Wonderful movie with wit and style - a must see for people who appreciate something different, unique and without a number after the title.
  90. Geeder
    Oct 27, 2005
    10
    Very disturbing movie but extremely well done. Violent (duh) and very well acted. The facial acting of Ms Bello gave the viewer a lot to think about. The teenage son was believable (as I have one). The younger sister was not as well acted but she wasn't in the film that often. I think about the film often and that to me is the mark of a good film. Not for the queasy or sexually embarassed.
  91. DanM.
    Oct 26, 2005
    10
    Maybe its cause i read the comic first but this is grade A stuff. cronibergs best.
  92. KeatonK.
    Oct 25, 2005
    9
    Startlingly affective. Cronenbergs expressionistic stylings devastate and arrest.
  93. Whaddyaknow
    Oct 25, 2005
    10
    I've raely seen such a divisive film. Look at these reviews! Almost split directly between 9/10s and 1/2s. Some would say that's the sign of a truly great movie. Others would say half of the population are dumb. Either half. I'd say that this is a superb movie with plenty going on and some truly wonderful moments. People complaining about the sugar-sweet town and the I've raely seen such a divisive film. Look at these reviews! Almost split directly between 9/10s and 1/2s. Some would say that's the sign of a truly great movie. Others would say half of the population are dumb. Either half. I'd say that this is a superb movie with plenty going on and some truly wonderful moments. People complaining about the sugar-sweet town and the cartoon gangsters are sort of missing the point. It's ok to work with cleverly set-up stereotypes if they work in the context of your film. And boy do they work. See it for yourelf - you'll either see one of the best of the year, or you'll be thoroughly entertained telling people why it's so terrible when you come out. You can't lose! Expand
  94. alicew.
    Oct 24, 2005
    9
    one of the best movies i have seen in a long time.
  95. TrevorCotton
    Oct 22, 2005
    10
    A History Of Violence works on so many levels with such convincing acting and a riveting story. Believe the hype this is one of the years best films!
  96. MarcusG
    Oct 22, 2005
    9
    As perfectly paced as the best Hitchcock thriller. Then, to that "A grade", add such a unique agenda, worthy and absorbing. Cronenberg makes A History of Violence an undeniably fantastic film. It's an A+.
  97. ChadS.
    Oct 20, 2005
    9
    I'll be the cheerleader, and next time, you be the man with a violent past. That scene on the stairwell is interesting because we've already seen the couple engage in role-playing when they have sex. Edie (Maria Bello) is like the Lorraine Bracco character in "Good Fellas" who admits to being turned-on when Henry (Ray Liotta) tells her to hide the gun. There's a darkness in I'll be the cheerleader, and next time, you be the man with a violent past. That scene on the stairwell is interesting because we've already seen the couple engage in role-playing when they have sex. Edie (Maria Bello) is like the Lorraine Bracco character in "Good Fellas" who admits to being turned-on when Henry (Ray Liotta) tells her to hide the gun. There's a darkness in Edie, too. If there's a flaw to "A History of Violence", it's the violence inflicted by Tom (Viggo Mortensen) on his victims because the rest of the film belies any graphic novel connection. Like fellow indie-director Richard Linklater, David Cronenberg mainstreams himself with dignity and class. Expand
  98. mitchellm
    Oct 18, 2005
    10
    Wow, these last low reveiws show us how people don't know what a goood movie is, they'd rather see something like "the fog" or some nonesense like that. and say its " the best movie ever!", thes people need to be shown what a real masterpeice looks like, and this is one of them.
  99. PatridiaG.
    Oct 17, 2005
    8
    I'm usually one who canno watch a violent movie; however, even tho 13 paople meeet grisley deaths, the acting in this movie kept me glued to my seat. The tension was palpable and I loved the non-hollywood ending. You are allowed to make up ;y;our own or realize that life goes on and doesn't end with the credits of a film.
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 90
    Cronenberg holds up a mirror, but he leaves it up to us to recoil at what we see.
  2. Clever and fast-paced thriller.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Lack of depth, complexity or strangeness make this a relatively routine entry for the director.