User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 651 Ratings

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  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.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. AAW
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Best movie of the year. Extraordinary. Go now. Do not wait.
  5. Elie
    Oct 1, 2005
    0
    This was the worst movie I have ever seen. The writing was the biggest bunch of hack tripe I have ever heard. I cannot believe even one critic liked this. Don't see this. It will make you angry.
  6. BruceL.
    Oct 28, 2005
    2
    Quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. Unfortunately it contains some of my very favorite actors. Goes to show that even great actors can come across as incredibly bad actors with the right script and direction. A real family wouldn't react the way characters in the film acted once they found out the truth about Tom Stall's past. I mean c'mon, Edie had to throw up Quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. Unfortunately it contains some of my very favorite actors. Goes to show that even great actors can come across as incredibly bad actors with the right script and direction. A real family wouldn't react the way characters in the film acted once they found out the truth about Tom Stall's past. I mean c'mon, Edie had to throw up in the toilet when she found out. That was not only ridiculous but a bad piece of acting as well. I don't even want to waste anymore words on this extreme disappointment Expand
  7. JoshT.
    Apr 16, 2010
    3
    At one point, Ed Harris says something like "You're trying to hard to be this other guy; it's painful to watch." I think that summed up most of the movie. There's a message there, and it's deep, no doubt, but morals don't need to be this horribly communicated. Utter junk - I can't believe the critical response this received.
  8. KC
    Oct 3, 2005
    6
    The bad acting, unbelievable circumstances, strange soundstage work, and predictable story make this just a watered down Cronenberg flick without anything strange to keep it interesting. Cronenberg's flicks often play out like a series of disjointed events, and this one is no different. Too bad that style doesn't play to this type of movie as it does to the excellent (and The bad acting, unbelievable circumstances, strange soundstage work, and predictable story make this just a watered down Cronenberg flick without anything strange to keep it interesting. Cronenberg's flicks often play out like a series of disjointed events, and this one is no different. Too bad that style doesn't play to this type of movie as it does to the excellent (and disturbing) Dead Ringers. I actually winced at the bad acting in "A History of Violence". Expand
  9. MonicaF
    Oct 3, 2005
    2
    Are you guys kiddding? This was a HORRIBLE movie. The plot was horrible, the pace was horrible, the idea was horrible. It was slow and predictable. When we left the theater EVERYONE was saying how bad it was and atleast 15 people got up and walked out DURING the movie. The ONLY saving grace in this movie is William Hurts 5 minutes on screen.. YES 5 MINUTES!!! Do not see this movie.
  10. Adam
    Oct 3, 2005
    2
    Just a horrible movie. How could the critics be so wrong on this? How could they almost unanimously support such a horrible movie?
  11. Loreli
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    Superb movie. Acting is excellent. May catch mainstream audiences, who exclusively want entertainment, off guard. They will find themselves not only entertained but also pondering the movie and its questioning of violence and identify for days afterwards. Cronenberg has taken the age-old themes of the classic genres of the Western and revenge bloodfests and imbued it with a provocative Superb movie. Acting is excellent. May catch mainstream audiences, who exclusively want entertainment, off guard. They will find themselves not only entertained but also pondering the movie and its questioning of violence and identify for days afterwards. Cronenberg has taken the age-old themes of the classic genres of the Western and revenge bloodfests and imbued it with a provocative point of view. Is violence an ugly but necessary means to an end if your intention is noble, or is it always just ugly and self-defeating? Does the moral cost of violence negate its use in all circumstances? Can one ever escape your past no matter how much you have managed to reinvent yourself? Although he has successfully defeated all threats to his idyllic life, has Tom Stall destroyed ultimately destroyed that life in his attempts to keep it? Is he any longer "the best man" his wife has ever known? These are just some of the questions I came away with after viewing the movie, and there aren't too many other films I have seen lately that have done that for me. Expand
  12. RachelH.
    Oct 9, 2005
    8
    Great movie overall. The only thing I really questioned is the ending.....the plot twists were excellent, they kept you wondering the whole way through. Especially good performance by Mortensen.
  13. JeremyK.
    Jan 10, 2006
    3
    It's funny to see how either people absolutely loved or absolutely hated this movie. I, obviously, did not care for it -- and no, I'm not illiterate or oblivious. Yes, I got all the metaphores -- they were only delivered with a lead pipe. For example, he lived a "white bread" life in Millbrook... Millbrook is a brand of white bread. Gee, how clever. Cinematically, I found the It's funny to see how either people absolutely loved or absolutely hated this movie. I, obviously, did not care for it -- and no, I'm not illiterate or oblivious. Yes, I got all the metaphores -- they were only delivered with a lead pipe. For example, he lived a "white bread" life in Millbrook... Millbrook is a brand of white bread. Gee, how clever. Cinematically, I found the lack of background music, while it augmented the slow pace of small town life particularly annoying after awhile. And, can somebody PLEASE explain why, just because some ex-thug knows how to fire a gun he can instantly turn into Bruce Lee when confronted with several well-armed opponents. Think about it... the guy has a teenage son so we can assume he's been flipping burgers in the diner working 14 hour days for at least 10 years. When's the last time you saw Mr. Olympia working at Mel's diner? If they wanted to make the story at least a "little" believable he should have been at least a "little" overweight and out of shape. Finally, with respect to the sex and violence in the movie -- I'm in no way prudish, but I found that neither did much to further the plot. Was it really necessary to show the blown apart skull of one of the victims while he lay twitching on the ground? All in all, I found the movie a HUGE disappointment and I'd be very suprised if this walked away with any major awards come Oscar-time. Expand
  14. AlexE.
    Oct 1, 2005
    10
    You don't realize just how much this movie has affected you until it is over, the credits are rolling, Howard Shore's subtly haunting score is playing softly, and you realize that for the first time in a long time, a movie has caused you to feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. The final scene in this film is heartbreaking, chilling, and incredibly unsettling. I will You don't realize just how much this movie has affected you until it is over, the credits are rolling, Howard Shore's subtly haunting score is playing softly, and you realize that for the first time in a long time, a movie has caused you to feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. The final scene in this film is heartbreaking, chilling, and incredibly unsettling. I will not tell you exactly what it contains, but I will say that it is no sort of "twist" ending and it is almost entirely silent. That one scene is enough to put this movie well onto my "Best of 2005" list, but the rest is what really cements its place. Cronenberg plays the audience like a fiddle for an hour and a half, taking our desensitization against violence on film and throwing it in our faces so that we can no longer look away. The experience of watching this in a crowded theater is exhilarating, as it seems the entire audience is sharing something very, very powerful. Great work from Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, and Ed Harris. See this if you have wondered where serious mainstream cinema has been hiding. Expand
  15. MarcR.
    Oct 1, 2005
    5
    I don't get to the theater as much anymore, but when I do I want my precious time, not to mention almost ten bucks a ticket, to be worth it. So I check out what the critics and others are saying and try to give the pros their respect and the benefit of the doubt. But every time I pass up a movie rated poorly for one that is critically acclaimed I wind up sitting there wishing I went I don't get to the theater as much anymore, but when I do I want my precious time, not to mention almost ten bucks a ticket, to be worth it. So I check out what the critics and others are saying and try to give the pros their respect and the benefit of the doubt. But every time I pass up a movie rated poorly for one that is critically acclaimed I wind up sitting there wishing I went to see the movie all the critics panned. This movie was slow, unevenly directed, cinematically washed out, predictable and ultimately not very entertaining. Next time I go to the movies I'm going to skip the due diligence and ignore the critics until after I've seen it. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and get my money's worth. Expand
  16. BradB.
    Oct 17, 2005
    4
    Croenenberg's direction is uneven, slow, and prodding....he gets very little out of his actors, especially the five year old girl. William Hurt was miscast as Joey's "Philly" brother. D - movie from a B list director.
  17. KristinaE.
    Oct 2, 2005
    5
    Bad. Boring. Repetitve. Bland. Unconvincing. Comic book and dramatic script at wrong times. Emotions were toyed with. Very drawn out, contained not much more than an exact replica of the trailer. Funny, to the point W.Hurt = A.
  18. alicew.
    Oct 24, 2005
    9
    one of the best movies i have seen in a long time.
  19. RobT.
    Oct 3, 2005
    5
    The story was not very interesting especially once the plot unfolded. Ed Harris, William Hurt, and Mario Bello did a great job acting; the others were below average probably due to the inconsistency of how their characters developed. Final thought: A disappointing film that was loaded with potential.
  20. JustinT
    Oct 3, 2005
    2
    Bad acting, bad dialogue and writing, unsympathetic characters. Inexplicably changes direction and themes halfway through the movie, and the scenes of violence seem randomly punctuated throughout the film. Every predictable plot twist plays out exactly as expected. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortenen give especially bad performances, but they may not have had much to work with in the beginning. Bad acting, bad dialogue and writing, unsympathetic characters. Inexplicably changes direction and themes halfway through the movie, and the scenes of violence seem randomly punctuated throughout the film. Every predictable plot twist plays out exactly as expected. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortenen give especially bad performances, but they may not have had much to work with in the beginning. The threadbare story was excruciatingly drawn out and uninteresting. The scenes with the high school bully seemed particularily contrived and stale, and the sex scenes definitely don't have the intended effect. And talk about product placement. Expand
  21. MikeG.
    Oct 4, 2005
    9
    From the eerily silent first moments of the film, Cronenberg captures mood and never lets go of it throughout. A History of Violence might have been a mediocre gore fest in the hands of a lesser director, but Cronenberg keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film and leaves you wondering about not only these characters and this story, but about the world we live in. From the eerily silent first moments of the film, Cronenberg captures mood and never lets go of it throughout. A History of Violence might have been a mediocre gore fest in the hands of a lesser director, but Cronenberg keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film and leaves you wondering about not only these characters and this story, but about the world we live in. Viggo Mortensen slips marvelously into the lead role, capturing the duality of his life perfectly: there is an anonimity in his character that's delivered adroitly. There are some small holes in the plot, but you won't find yourself thinking about them until long after you leave the theater. William Hurt's performance is a little weird - is his character supposed to be funny? - but this is quibbling. A History of Violence is a movie worth seeing. Expand
  22. Fantasy
    Oct 5, 2005
    1
    There are no words to describe how bad this movie truly is. It starts out in dramatic syle and gets your attention immediately. From there the story unravels before your very eyes with more holes in the story than Carter has little liver pills or Swiss Cheese? But the ending is even lamer than War of the Worlds which I had previously thought was the worst ending ever. The audience filed There are no words to describe how bad this movie truly is. It starts out in dramatic syle and gets your attention immediately. From there the story unravels before your very eyes with more holes in the story than Carter has little liver pills or Swiss Cheese? But the ending is even lamer than War of the Worlds which I had previously thought was the worst ending ever. The audience filed out of the theater shaking our collective heads. Expand
  23. ScottM.
    Oct 6, 2005
    2
    If I ever see another Cronenberg Movie again shoot me please.He really is the most overrated Director ever his films are at best okay.But his choice of poor actors and bad scripts is key to confusing the audience along a really offbeat journey.If you think this is good you best start watching some decent films please this is rubbish of the highest order!
  24. randyw.
    Oct 6, 2005
    9
    A brilliant movie; one that makes the intelligent viewer question the place and role of violence in American society, regardless of circumstance. One can see the master touch of a director whose Canadian viewpoint and perspective on American life reveals much about the dark underside of that society.
  25. LingX.
    Oct 6, 2005
    7
    A walking teapot that boiled and went on a killing spree. that's just about it.
  26. RJSamson
    Oct 7, 2005
    10
    It's a movie about character. If someone else directed it, it may turn commercial. But Cronenberg's style has definitely drawn sincere realism to one of the best movies of the year. Subtle yet strong. What more can I say?
  27. Johnston
    Oct 8, 2005
    0
    This film is so bad it is not even worthy of a score of 1. The first 5 minutes are predictable and from there it disintergrates before your very eyes. It loses all credibility after 30 minutes from which there is no escape. It just becomes more awful by the frame. The ending is so preposterous it is not even worth commenting about. The director needs a reality check? Avoid at all costs.
  28. PhilM
    Oct 9, 2005
    5
    It was OK. Entertaining but not the "great" movie the critics make it out to be. A little predictable and light on substance. More of a renter, don't pay full price to see it.
  29. DeWayneP.
    Sep 25, 2005
    9
    Excellent film. May not be everyone's cup of tea, because it's talks about our relationship to violence and how it reflects who we are as a society. Seeing how seductive our temptations are towards violence and how we use it for sexual fulfilment, revenge, as well as how we decide right (whistle-blower) from wrong (stool pigeon), or is it the other way around? One should Excellent film. May not be everyone's cup of tea, because it's talks about our relationship to violence and how it reflects who we are as a society. Seeing how seductive our temptations are towards violence and how we use it for sexual fulfilment, revenge, as well as how we decide right (whistle-blower) from wrong (stool pigeon), or is it the other way around? One should approach this film not as an entertaining enterprise i.e. a Mel Gibson film, but as a film to give us pause and reflection as to who we are and have been. And it's okay, we can be reflective and critical and still be American...really...It's only a movie. Expand
  30. ChadB
    Jan 4, 2006
    2
    TERRIBLE. I'm not usually bothered by violence in movies, but this was just random extreme violence and uncomfortable sex scenes. I was about to walk out and ask for my money back when the movie inexplicably ended.
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.