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A History of Violence (2005)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 207
Fresh: 180 | Rotten: 27

A History of Violence raises compelling and thoughtful questions about the nature of violence, while representing a return to form for director David Cronenberg in one of his more uncharacteristic pieces.


Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 44
Fresh: 42 | Rotten: 2

A History of Violence raises compelling and thoughtful questions about the nature of violence, while representing a return to form for director David Cronenberg in one of his more uncharacteristic pieces.



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 277,756

My Rating

Movie Info

Tom Stall is living a happy and quiet life with his lawyer wife and their two children in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana, but one night their idyllic existence is shattered when Tom foils a vicious attempted robbery in his diner. Sensing danger, he takes action and saves his customers and friends in the self-defense killings of two-sought-after criminals. Heralded as a hero, Tom's life is changed overnight, attracting a national media circus, which forces him into the spotlight.


Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense

Josh Olson

Mar 14, 2006


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All Critics (207) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (180) | Rotten (27) | DVD (38)

The less you know about this movie before seeing it -- and you really should see it -- the better.

April 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cronenberg's direction, mirroring the split in Tom, is alternately measured and frighteningly explosive, and, as always, he gives the movie a nasty underlay of sexual perversity.

April 15, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This peculiarly predictable picture has been calculated, or miscalculated, to set up certain expectations, fulfill them, and then do the same thing again, thereby giving us a chance to see what's coming and, at least in theory, be shocked.

April 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A remarkably convincing examination of heroism, hero worship, and the seductive allure of villainy.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A model of clean, lean storytelling.

October 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though this is certainly Cronenberg's most 'mainstream' movie in years, the fact that it's so immediately enjoyable as a terrific thriller does not diminish its less obvious virtues.

October 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fascinating exercise in cinematic restraint resulting in a captivating, not to be missed film.

October 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files
Lyles' Movie Files

With A History Of Violence, Cronenberg uses the pulp gangster genre - as opposed to, say, sci-fi horror -- to draw us into a dialogue on our relationship as voyeurs to violence, both real and cinematic.

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

Without conceding any of his iconoclastic vision, Cronenberg has turned a genre film with classic Western overtones into a gripping psychological drama that examines the duality of man and his infatuation with the art of violence.

April 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

While it weakens in its final stretch...A History of Violence succeeds enormously thanks to the strength of its direction and performances.

August 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

A truly entertaining and engrossing study of violence, family, and our pasts eventually coming back to haunt us...

June 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

The violence that enters the characters' perfect domestic existence is permanent, and each act reveals truths about the people who use it and the audience who enjoys it.

June 7, 2010 Full Review Source:

Impeccable formal control to match audacity is mandatory, and Cronenberg provides it

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

The movie begins slowly, methodically, and builds increasingly toward a devastating climax.

February 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

It's one of the better dramas of the year so far -- even if at times it feels like an artistic genius is painting by numbers.

January 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Dark Horizons
Dark Horizons

The tension builds in a slow boil, then ignites furiously when we're not quite ready for it.

September 17, 2007 Full Review Source:

Mr. Mortensen and the sparse, intelligent script hold it together.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

The master is back, with this remarkably accessible tale of anger and revenge.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

Shows its stuff as both suspenseful, eloquent storytelling, while giving rise to larger cultural questions connected to the entrenched institutionalization of aggression as a major means of problem solving in this country.

February 8, 2007 Full Review Source: WBAI Web Radio | Comments (3)
WBAI Web Radio

A History of Violence develops with the singleness of purpose, and the rigor, of a mathematical demonstration, one that begins with a commonly accepted truth and ends with brains spattered across the floor.

November 11, 2006 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

full review in Greek

October 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Cronenberg's masterful, intelligent and gripping meta-thriller leaves us pondering about our enduringly perverse desire for alternative realities, in which surrogate violent alter egos run righteously and preposterously amok.

September 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Audience Reviews for A History of Violence

I am pretty let down I'm not going to lie. I love David Cronenberg's films, and waiting so long to view this film, I thought I didn't know what I had been missing, but I don't think I was missing much. Yes, his brilliant style is displayed here once again, but I think following a guy as things just happen with not really much shock value (which is what it was trying to convey), was kind of boring to me. The performances were good, but the supporting cast was just awful. There really wasn't much new to the genre here, and when villains are introduced, things happen that really throw you out of the story. I was very disappointed during this film, and it just did not connect with me. "A History of Violence" is fine for what it is I guess, but it's nothing special, especially coming from Cronenberg, although I admire it.
January 18, 2014
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

it's good at he beginning, but the movie is ruining the graphic novel. its much better in graphic novel.
December 3, 2012
Two bullies corner a quiet kid in a crowded school corridor and verbally humiliate him, calling him a coward. The quiet kid thereupon beats the living daylights out of the tough kids. So, in one instance, Cronenberg considers our societal relationship with violence: we like to say we deride it but actually but we always stop to watch. Too bad that its only a question of ethics presented and not a complete story, because after asking the question the director never follows through. As its Cronenberg, one does leave thinking: "that was one hell of a question!"
May 14, 2012

Super Reviewer

A History of Violence is an intriguing and thought stirring thriller from Director David Cronenberg. The story follows a man trying to rid himself of a violent past, and settle into family life. But, un-fortunately, his past comes back to haunt him in the form of Ed Harris. The characters are the driving force behind this film, and each one is well performed and leave a noticeable impression on the viewer. At some points this film can be a little dialogue heavy, it can fell as if your just being brought from one seen of some talking heads, to another. But the payoff makes any boredom generated by this worthwhile, and the final scene is one of the best endings I've ether seen in a film. So, I recommend this film as an incisive tale about attitudes towards violence.
October 27, 2011
Joel K.
Joel Kelly

Super Reviewer

    1. Tom Stall: Jesus, Richie.
    – Submitted by Shishuraj K (15 months ago)
    1. Richie Cusack: How do you fuck that up? How do you FUCK THAT UP?!
    – Submitted by Matt H (2 years ago)
    1. Jack Stall: If I rob Mulligan's pharmacy, are you going to ground me if I don't give you a piece of the action? If I go to Sam about you, will you have me whacked?
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
    1. Carl Fogarty: Still crazy fucking Joey.
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • History Of Violence (DE)
  • Una historia de violencia (ES)
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