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Overall Rating
4.02

Awesome45.05%
Worth A Look: 28.57%
Just Average: 16.48%
Pretty Crappy: 3.3%
Sucks: 6.59%

16 reviews, 86 user ratings


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History of Violence, A
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by Erik Childress

"Cronenberg Makes The Graphic Novel Live Up To Its Name"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: David Cronenberg’s films are usually internal struggles; man and woman’s inability to conquer their own bodies, addictions and feelings. Sometimes it’s the pain of mental illness, occasionally it’s the mutation of the flesh. It usually adds up to a very uncomfortable for an audience not willing to confront hidden desires or admit that the outside forces of disease can be responsible. They will feel much easier about his latest work, a story of revenge and bullets that keeps Cronenberg on the path of exploration but eases his audience into it with the images of violence we’ve come to accept as forms of entertainment.

Viggo Mortensen plays a small-town chap with the metaphorical moniker of Tom Stall. He runs a neighborhood diner, has a loving wife (Maria Bello), a teenage son (Ashton Holmes) and a little girl (Heidi Hayes). Like all suburban fronts in the movies, something dangerous is lurking. In this case a pair of bash-and-run murderers whose next stop is Tom’s diner. As one is waiting at the counter for Tom to pour the coffee (and that’s the last Suzanne Vega reference, I promise) the other makes his move and turns his gun to the patrons. In an opportune moment, Tom makes his move and dispatches the two men with all the grace of an experienced action hero, but in typical Cronenberg fashion – the result of the violence seems anything but heroic.

The media makes its play for Tom’s fifteen minutes and turn him into a local celebrity. Attention booms and into town arrives another group of men, led by the dead-eyed Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), who make like they know Tom, only they refer to him as “Joey.” Tom seems clueless to their persistence, but they aren’t leaving town until he takes a ride with them to Philadelphia. With his family threatened and his privacy violated at every turn, Tom must confront another group of demons head on to protect the life he’s made for himself.

There are surprises to be had in A History of Violence and the nature of those turns present an even darker reality then we might have imagined. This is Cronenberg’s look at the invasion of fame on a family man who wanted nothing more than to be just that. Sometime ago, one could see someone like Harrison Ford in Mortensen’s role, the epitome of the action hero who kept his life away from the movies by living off a ranch sans the spotlight of prying paparazzi and reporters. But once they get a smell of something they want, they can make you and break you with the same click of the pen or the shutter.

Mortensen gives the most complete performance of his career here, creating an everyman with a talent we have to believe he’s instinctually capable of, yet weary to have. He has to be noble, oblivious and lethal at a moment’s notice. Like his family, we want him to be our protector but will still fear him once the box where he’s been hiding has been opened. Ed Harris doesn’t even need the makeup to invoke our caution of his presence and William Hurt turns in some of the funniest, most over-the-top work of his career as the gangster requesting the honor of Tom’s company.

Good fighting evil, whether it be criminals or punching out the bully at school always has an audience applauding from a safe distance, but violence will have its match somewhere down the road and consequences always follow. While some may make the inevitable comparison to Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, A History of Violence is actually based on a comic book (or graphic novel) by John Wagner and Vince Locke, a medium rife with conflicted, but obvious heroes and villains. Much like Road to Perdition, another graphic-oriented adaptation about a man trying to shield his family from his past, Cronenberg pays attention to the man and the trap of his own nature, adding a further dimension to whatever comeuppances they must dish out to survive. It’s easy for us to applaud Tom’s actions in the film, but maybe what we really should be thinking about is what created him in the first place.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12761&reviewer=198
originally posted: 09/23/05 00:12:59
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell solid film cast is great 4 stars
5/09/15 stanley welles a gripping, cogently written and admirably acted work 4 stars
1/24/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Hitman becomes cook in diner. You want fries with that? 4 stars
12/04/08 P. Yew Someone in the theatre I was in farted and stunk up the whole place. 1 stars
11/25/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 5 stars
6/10/08 PAUL SHORTT A FLAWED AND UNIMPRESSIVE MEDITATION OF VIOLENCE 1 stars
1/20/08 Wendell O. Maness John Gotti was a wimpy loser- wormfood now! Ha ha! 3 stars
10/28/07 mr. mike Better than expected. Ed Harris is amazing 4 stars
7/28/07 john anthony Loses its way in the last 1/3. Should have stayed in Indiana 3 stars
7/20/07 Harry Cronenberg is the worst movie maker in the world 1 stars
7/20/07 Jennifer What th fok was that! Sheer nonsense! Absolutely pointless! 1 stars
7/06/07 AnnieG Much too predictable; too little plot. 3 stars
5/22/07 R.W. Welch Doesn't quite ring true at times but shows some style. B- 4 stars
5/17/07 ES Enjoyable, depicts sex and violence on a satisfying scale 4 stars
3/27/07 fools♫gold People rightly say that it's "multi-layered"; but damnit, aren't all films? 3 stars
1/25/07 kris It is a bit naive and overrated. But obviously tricked many, including pro film critics. 3 stars
12/16/06 Trey Thought provoking and truly dramatic. Great movie. 5 stars
12/14/06 T. McGregor This movie draws you in then implicates the audience in the gruesome violence. Brilliant. 5 stars
12/05/06 Adrian A masterpiece. Nails everything. 5 stars
9/01/06 MP Bartley Dark and troubling. Terriffic acting across the board. 4 stars
8/17/06 Seanboy A fantastic meditation on violence in our culture, superb performances 5 stars
8/13/06 Cosmic Conundrum Total Crap. Exhibits characteristics of a badly made Hindi Film. 1 stars
7/20/06 Frank Rountree Total crap says it all. Doesn't live up to the hype. 1 stars
7/18/06 Reklc Great acting, graphic violence- so what if the story is a bit bogus. 5 stars
7/16/06 mark incredible-leaves much to the viewer's interpretation and implication 5 stars
7/12/06 ad "The meaning" is way overblown. Shooting spree with no big surprises 2 stars
7/03/06 seldomscene do not read the reviews, it gives the plot away,watche it cold 5 stars
5/04/06 Indrid Cold A metaphor for America losing its innocence? That probably gives David too much credit. 3 stars
4/30/06 Agent Sands One of the most well-made films of 2005...or 2006. 5 stars
4/17/06 Jessica not bad, abit over rated, didnt like the ending , but ok for a night in with a pizza. 4 stars
4/09/06 Jung Texican Grossly overrated. "Experts" again assign profound meaning to an empty film - top 20 worst 1 stars
3/28/06 mike if a coffe shop gets robbed, don't be a hero or u lose ur secret identity! 3 stars
3/27/06 Y2mckay good acting, good action, but way WAY over-hyped 4 stars
3/20/06 Jon Makes you think... and awesome acting 5 stars
3/20/06 Peter The whole thing is as awkward and empty as the first sex scene. 2 stars
3/18/06 Monday Morning Nothing special about this flick. Very missable. 3 stars
3/16/06 matt overhyped, not as interesting as people say but still worthwhile. 4 stars
3/14/06 Rocky I really dug this flick, not a wasted moment in it and very thought provoking 4 stars
3/14/06 Shannon Robles cronenberg does it again! 5 stars
3/13/06 john bale Never overcomes its source material a comic, its too over the top to be taken seriously. 3 stars
3/10/06 jack different but doesn;t keep the interest up 4 stars
3/10/06 matthew smith a very impressive film, great performances 5 stars
3/10/06 Sumixam Not as good as they say but kills 1.5hrs ok 4 stars
2/20/06 Agent Sands CRONENBERG'S GREATEST MOVIE YET. POSSIBLY THE BEST OF 2005. 5 stars
1/19/06 ASC Excellent 5 stars
12/17/05 ownerofdajoint A frightening portrayal of a trapped man's inability to escape his predetermined fate 5 stars
12/04/05 Jeff Anderson David Cronenberg's strongest film to date & brilliant! Mortensen & Bello are OUTSTANDING!!! 5 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Cronenberg is a modern miracle. He's nothing short of genious. 5 stars
11/20/05 qemm the plot worth of a 70s kung-fu movie... movie about nothing 3 stars
11/08/05 Alice very very overrated, nothing new and even boring. 1 stars
11/07/05 K. Sear Reasonable but not as good as everyone is claiming. 4 stars
10/27/05 Aaron Smith Good film, fine performances by Bello and Mortensen. 5 stars
10/26/05 TOYAN DAVIS GOOD MOVIE TO ILLUSTRATE THE POWER OF LOVE 3 stars
10/26/05 deadwiz Pretty decent flick, pretty graphic too! 4 stars
10/25/05 Sean Worst movie Ive ever seen. I know NO ONE who liked this 1 stars
10/25/05 Nick_Voro Part boring, cliche, and captivating. In the end a very interesting film but very overrated 4 stars
10/21/05 Christine FIdance Very glad to see Cronenberg back on his game, excellent acting, great movie! 5 stars
10/19/05 Sarah The most trite, poorly executed and absolutely pointless film I've seen. 1 stars
10/19/05 B-dog Bad acting,depressing, fake 1 stars
10/18/05 jeff good acting, simple story, bad ending, loved it 5 stars
10/17/05 Marc Bauman Excellent, unsettling 5 stars
10/17/05 Cinemaniac On the surface, it might look like a thriller, but it's really a meditation on identity... 5 stars
10/14/05 ROY L. CAIN JR. The legacy of Charles Bronson lives on. 5 stars
10/12/05 Koitus Good movie; better than most of the other cr@p that is out there! 4 stars
10/12/05 spielberg Very violent movie, psychologic plot just too thin 2 stars
10/11/05 Elizabeth S Pretty brutal. Actually quite a simplistic story but told well. 4 stars
10/10/05 b compact, no wasted film, excellent 5 stars
10/10/05 Ole Man Bourbon Cronenberg's worst. Ridiculous story, Viggo is a total dullard. Why the hype? 2 stars
10/09/05 bill crappy, pretentious, unlikely. no one in the theater I was in liked it, one bit. 1 stars
10/09/05 Agent Sands Perfect. A masterpiece in all departments. Timeless, timeless, timeless. 5 stars
10/07/05 kanye excellent film - could have been helped by a better ending. 4 stars
10/06/05 Louise McChrystal a little too much violence, but still a very well played movie 4 stars
10/06/05 Steve Michaud Wow. Simply... wow. 5 stars
10/04/05 ASF Overrated, cartoonish, lacks depth. Director was not up to the material. 3 stars
10/03/05 Elizabeth S Good performances, powerful, brutal film 4 stars
10/03/05 isawthismovie good idea for a movie but very poor execution of the idea 2 stars
10/02/05 laura gonzalez one of the best movies of the year! 5 stars
10/02/05 Patti Hughes I love this film twice. It is wonderful 5 stars
10/01/05 viggo mortenson did you people work on this movie? i can go online or on oxygen to find near porn whenever. 2 stars
10/01/05 astrotart Primo acting with a great story with just enough sex, violence and drama.. 5 stars
9/30/05 Suzz well-acted but predictable reformed mobster film less the final scene 4 stars
9/30/05 Kristina Williams That second sex scene....WHOA. 5 stars
9/30/05 The Criddler Cronenberg = Filmmaking God 5 stars
9/29/05 E. Northam Cronenberg's superb, transgressive meditation on violence's multiplicity of forms; graphic 5 stars
9/25/05 James Laczkowski Best Film of 2005 so far. Riveting, disturbing and suprisingly funny. Hurt rules 5 stars
9/12/05 Alex Brisbourne Possibly Cronenberg's best: great acting, good script, violence is a little much! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Sep-2005 (R)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-Mar-2006


Directed by
  David Cronenberg

Written by
  Josh Olson

Cast
  Viggo Mortensen
  Maria Bello
  William Hurt
  Ed Harris
  Ashton Holmes
  Heidi Hayes



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