User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 658 Ratings

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. JoeyT.
    Mar 20, 2006
    6
    Because of the rave reviews by the critics I was expecting more. The movie is entertaining but had little to offer in the way of story. The acting is good but you won't be moved by any of the performances. All in all I was midly dissapointed.
  8. rostokova
    Oct 10, 2005
    5
    A History of Violence is a simple film whos deadpan delivery, extreme violence and sexual aggression have elevated its critical status. The setup is simple and tailored to character development rather than narrative revelation, yet little depth in character is accrued during the film's course. Despite a fine performance by Viggo Mortensen, the script is far too spare in its treatment A History of Violence is a simple film whos deadpan delivery, extreme violence and sexual aggression have elevated its critical status. The setup is simple and tailored to character development rather than narrative revelation, yet little depth in character is accrued during the film's course. Despite a fine performance by Viggo Mortensen, the script is far too spare in its treatment of his character, and lacks the psychogical tension and unease of Cronenberg's excellent Dead Ringers. The central implication that man can't change his nature, only suppress it, is explored superficially and mostly for gratification. Equally the ending's suggestion that violence may often be integral to the creation of the American dream is certainly subversive, but warrants further examination, rather than genre neatness. Blue Velvet also showed there was something dark beyond the picket fence; but it was assured, poetic and contained a subconscious as well as visceral threat. In comparison 'History' seems slight and hollow, its deadpan, off-beat delivery just a distraction from its vacuity. Expand
  9. GlenF
    Oct 2, 2005
    6
    The violence is fun but the acting is laughable at times. Very surprised at the praise this movie recieved. It's also very predictable.
  10. JohnS
    Oct 5, 2005
    5
    I have come to trust the MetaCritic Ratings as amazingly reliable. But I have to say that this movie, while entertaining, was flawed on so many levels. The formula that it was trying to achieve was very transparent, but it only occasionally succeed at making it work. Watch it from the perspective of the relationships. Few of them had any authenticity to them at all. Watch it from the I have come to trust the MetaCritic Ratings as amazingly reliable. But I have to say that this movie, while entertaining, was flawed on so many levels. The formula that it was trying to achieve was very transparent, but it only occasionally succeed at making it work. Watch it from the perspective of the relationships. Few of them had any authenticity to them at all. Watch it from the perspective of logic, a guy who has committed himself to a new life is not going to put his life in danger like that. The movie almost counts on viewers assuming that people actually think and act like they do on TV to make it work. Well crafted, but hollow and contrived. Expand
  11. ErikB.
    Oct 6, 2005
    4
    Awesome violent action scenes. Crap downtimes. I love how we spent 10 minutes at the beginning getting to know the bad guys who got killed in about 15 seconds.
  12. walterc.
    Oct 8, 2005
    4
    Film had great potential for the first 1/2, but got sappy afer that including a number of unnintended laughs from the audience. Some great acting out of Hurt and Harris, but not enough to bouy the rest of the film.
  13. Chuck76
    Sep 27, 2005
    6
    I'm really surprised at the ratings this film is getting, I thought the acting was terrible at times and the plot as thin a cigarette paper. One of thoses movies you'll look back on and think "it wasn't that good actually". Very average.
  14. Darkmage
    Jan 13, 2006
    4
    This movie is actually quite good. The reason for my low rating is the critical acclaim that the movie is receiving. I'm sorry -- everyone is asking what caused the Hollywood slump in 2006 -- maybe it is because a movie such as this one is touted as having such a ingenuis plot. A grade 5 student could have come up with this storyline! If this is what the critics think is a A-1 movie, This movie is actually quite good. The reason for my low rating is the critical acclaim that the movie is receiving. I'm sorry -- everyone is asking what caused the Hollywood slump in 2006 -- maybe it is because a movie such as this one is touted as having such a ingenuis plot. A grade 5 student could have come up with this storyline! If this is what the critics think is a A-1 movie, you have your answer as to the sorry state of the movie industry. Expand
  15. JamesB.
    Mar 10, 2006
    4
    Awful Rendition Of A Awesome Graphic Novel, The Only Thing I Liked About This Movie Was The No Holds Barred Violence That Ensues. Other Than That Don't Waste Your Time With This Movie Read The Book Instead.
  16. MarkP.
    Apr 23, 2006
    4
    I too am astonished at how well this movie was received by critics, especially since I typically favour critical darlings. Moreover, I am astonished that many user comments found herein have unreservedly proclaimed this movie a "masterpiece." Frankly, to those of you who have accused the individuals who responded poorly to this movie as
  17. ErwinK.
    Apr 20, 2006
    6
    Overrated. I agree with most of the previous user comments. It is well acted and directed, but the story is weak. There is one plot twist near the beginning, which is already given away in the title of the movie anyway. And that's about it. There is no pay-off of another plot twist at the end of the movie. That's it. Nothing special.
  18. TonyB.
    Aug 1, 2006
    5
    This often extremely slow-moving and sometimes outright boring film has to be one of the more overrated ones of 2005. Its excellent acting by all concerned is its only significant merit. Despite the gushing of many critics who should know better, there is definitely less here than meets the eye.

    P.S. I wish Ruth R would share with us the tiny innuendo that obviously had such a great
    This often extremely slow-moving and sometimes outright boring film has to be one of the more overrated ones of 2005. Its excellent acting by all concerned is its only significant merit. Despite the gushing of many critics who should know better, there is definitely less here than meets the eye.

    P.S. I wish Ruth R would share with us the tiny innuendo that obviously had such a great effect on her.
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  19. Riren
    Feb 3, 2007
    4
    This movie makes no statement about violence in our culture. Our "hero" discovers one day that he's very good at killing people and that he has some ties to a vicious and vague mob/mafia. How could he not know such things about himself? The eventual explanation is pathetic. As we wait for the reveal, with minimal suspense or intrigue along the way, there is an overgrown subplot about This movie makes no statement about violence in our culture. Our "hero" discovers one day that he's very good at killing people and that he has some ties to a vicious and vague mob/mafia. How could he not know such things about himself? The eventual explanation is pathetic. As we wait for the reveal, with minimal suspense or intrigue along the way, there is an overgrown subplot about his son's aptitude for violence, which is promptly dropped after putting us through a terrible and cliched roll of high school angst. It is not resolved midway through the movie; it is forgotten. None of the characters are fully realized, and most don't pass one dimension. Every attempt at two-dimensional characters is forced. The movie has good actors who make a handful of the scenes quite entertaining, but there is nothing else worthwhile in it. It's a movie that banks on its premise, then fails to deliver, and never develops a plot; instead, it throws disjointed scenes at you. Worse still, while it doesn't develop a plot, it is uncomfortably boring. Movies based on superheroes understand storytelling far better than this grittier graphic novel joint. Expand
  20. SusanM.
    Oct 11, 2005
    5
    I am disappointed in this movie...I thought I was really going to like it but actually it didn't move me at all. I don't HATE it, and I don't LOVE it. It was just another movie, forgettable at best. I give it a 5 because that's a very neutral score and I am feeling very neutral about it.
  21. DanT.
    Oct 13, 2005
    5
    I'm a huge Cronenberg fan. I've enjoyed multiple viewings of all his films, but this time . . . The plot line does not serve the film's own themes. Cronenberg in interviews point to 3 ways to read "history of violence" : "(1) a man with a long history of violence; (2) the historical use of violence as a means of settling disputes, and (3) the innate violence of Darwinian I'm a huge Cronenberg fan. I've enjoyed multiple viewings of all his films, but this time . . . The plot line does not serve the film's own themes. Cronenberg in interviews point to 3 ways to read "history of violence" : "(1) a man with a long history of violence; (2) the historical use of violence as a means of settling disputes, and (3) the innate violence of Darwinian evolution." This is great, but I didn't see this film as the most effective way to explore these themes. --- And William Hurt sucked. Expand
  22. Tbush
    Nov 6, 2005
    5
    I really wanted to like this movie more than I did...HONEST! It just didn't generate much in the way of excitement and was pretty predictable after about the first ten minutes. The characters were flat and unlikeable and, while I do enjoy a little boobage now and again, the sex scenes were more than a little stomach churning. I give it a '5' which I think is pretty fair.
  23. Atkinson
    Oct 17, 2005
    6
    Spot on design, well shot and adequate to good performances, but the movie never sold me on the characters' internal conflict. Going into the movie, I didn't know much at all about the plot. But after the initial confrontation in the diner, I could see the path laid out before us; Tom was going to have to confront the past he tried so hard to put behind him; his wife would Spot on design, well shot and adequate to good performances, but the movie never sold me on the characters' internal conflict. Going into the movie, I didn't know much at all about the plot. But after the initial confrontation in the diner, I could see the path laid out before us; Tom was going to have to confront the past he tried so hard to put behind him; his wife would reluctantly succumb to the love for the man he'd become; and his teenage son would rebell but ultimately respect his father for what he had to do. In all, the plot seemed too contrived with the stereotypical conflicts you would expect from a past-that's-come-back-to-haunt-you story. Expand
  24. MichaelD.
    Oct 2, 2005
    6
    Hugely overblown. It has a great story but it develops far too quickly and nonsensically. Nothing is natural or real in the dialogue. Cliches abound. I believe it tries to be too many things. For example, it seems like an unhappy marriage of an earthly thriller and a "Kill Bill"-style thriller, that leaves you feeling detached from either aspect. Still, interesting and worth the rental.
  25. Alex
    Oct 20, 2005
    5
    This movie does have so much potential. The plot was very slow to develop and in the end it seemed lacking. They could have done soo much more with it; some flashbacks or something, please! It did have some really good fight scenes, but they were too few and far between. It has some good acting, and some very interesting characters, despite being severly underdeveloped. The weakest This movie does have so much potential. The plot was very slow to develop and in the end it seemed lacking. They could have done soo much more with it; some flashbacks or something, please! It did have some really good fight scenes, but they were too few and far between. It has some good acting, and some very interesting characters, despite being severly underdeveloped. The weakest character being the high school "bully". I would not call this a "bad" movie, although its miles away from a "good" movie. Dont waste your time going to the theaters, catch it on DVD. Expand
  26. JulienC.
    Oct 23, 2005
    5
    Very disappointing, I just love Viggo and I can't believe he is part of this flat story. I was expecting a real interesting story about our society's issues and it turns into a hollywood recipe... don't go thiere if you like smart movies.
  27. MartinX.
    Oct 3, 2005
    5
    Interesting premise, but a huge disappointment. The themes and questions that arise are not dealt with in any substantive way. While many scenes are vibrant, many others seem plucked from an after school special. The teenagers are laughably bad. Has Cronenberg been to a high school recently? Ever? Cronenberg has demonstrated a perverse sense of humor in teh past. I can't help but Interesting premise, but a huge disappointment. The themes and questions that arise are not dealt with in any substantive way. While many scenes are vibrant, many others seem plucked from an after school special. The teenagers are laughably bad. Has Cronenberg been to a high school recently? Ever? Cronenberg has demonstrated a perverse sense of humor in teh past. I can't help but wonder if he's secretly laughing at people who take this film seriously. Expand
  28. JohnL.
    Oct 3, 2005
    5
    This clunky script is much ado about nothing. The themes aren't explored at all. The pacing is uneven and the villains are inept and silly. Was Maria Bello's character supposed to be an attorney? Sure didn't act with much wisdom or decisiveness. And the teenaged son's subplot was laughably cliche and contrived. This film reminded me of A SIMPLE PLAN, another overrated, This clunky script is much ado about nothing. The themes aren't explored at all. The pacing is uneven and the villains are inept and silly. Was Maria Bello's character supposed to be an attorney? Sure didn't act with much wisdom or decisiveness. And the teenaged son's subplot was laughably cliche and contrived. This film reminded me of A SIMPLE PLAN, another overrated, tedious exercise in small town exposure to 'big city violence.' Ho hum. Expand
  29. RichardG.
    Oct 3, 2005
    4
    The critics are way off on this movie.... Its only critically acclaimed because it has a strange ending and because it was so gorey. It is not a very good movie. The acting was TERRIBLE. The leading female actress overacted in every scene. No one gets to understand why the characters are so obtuse, and maybe we shouldnt, maybe its a part of the "art" of it, but at least give us a good The critics are way off on this movie.... Its only critically acclaimed because it has a strange ending and because it was so gorey. It is not a very good movie. The acting was TERRIBLE. The leading female actress overacted in every scene. No one gets to understand why the characters are so obtuse, and maybe we shouldnt, maybe its a part of the "art" of it, but at least give us a good package, some good camera work, and some good acting, and dialogue. Not a very good movie for actually movie goers Expand
  30. DeerkC
    Oct 4, 2005
    4
    This movie is critically over-rated. It's somewhat well acted, but oddly paced, at times inconsistant, annoying and, worse, outright dull. It's a plodding, pointless affair, with little in the way of intrigue or mystery, and what 'plot' there is to weave the scenes together is predictable, and uninteresting. Eventually becomes typical action-movie fair, but without the This movie is critically over-rated. It's somewhat well acted, but oddly paced, at times inconsistant, annoying and, worse, outright dull. It's a plodding, pointless affair, with little in the way of intrigue or mystery, and what 'plot' there is to weave the scenes together is predictable, and uninteresting. Eventually becomes typical action-movie fair, but without the budget or effects. It's ultimately pointless, people die, but nothing really changes. This movie is not in the least entertaining. Save your dollars. Expand
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.