A History of Violence - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A History of Violence Reviews

Top Critic
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
April 15, 2013
The less you know about this movie before seeing it -- and you really should see it -- the better.
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
April 15, 2013
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.
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
April 15, 2013
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.
Top Critic
Ken Tucker
New York Magazine/Vulture
May 12, 2006
A remarkably convincing examination of heroism, hero worship, and the seductive allure of villainy.
Top Critic
Steve Murray
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
October 2, 2005
A model of clean, lean storytelling.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
Top Critic
Geoff Andrew
Time Out
October 1, 2005
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.
Top Critic
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
October 1, 2005
Cronenberg isn't engaging in parody or irony. Nor is he nihilistically pandering to our worst impulses: the filmmaking is too measured and too intelligent. He implicitly respects us and our responses, even when those responses are silly or disturbing.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
September 30, 2005
David Cronenberg's adaptation of the underwritten graphic novel of the same name is a spare, mean movie of shocking violence and wrenching moral dilemmas.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 30, 2005
Right from its first, quietly unnerving scene A History of Violence is unmistakably the work of an artist with a purpose.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
September 30, 2005
It has the reticence of a good Western, the shock of black comedy and the naked emotion of fine drama.
| Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
September 30, 2005
[A] vigorously sublime take on guilt and innocence, the damned and the redeemed.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 29, 2005
The first half of the story -- the one shrouded in doubt -- is much more effective than the second half, which is shrouded in bloodletting.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
September 29, 2005
It's rare to find a filmmaker who can deliver such a message and keep us riveted every minute of screen time. But Cronenberg manages it, making A History of Violence one of his best, and most realistic, films ever.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
September 29, 2005
In A History of Violence, director David Cronenberg's delirious wow of a movie about violence and sex and the American dream, cinema regains all its original power to shock and surprise.
| Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
September 28, 2005
Mr. Cronenberg has imbued his narrative with a style of personal conviction that is found in only the greatest auteurs.
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
September 28, 2005
There's not a scene wasted in the 97-minute unspooling, not a detour that doesn't tell, surprise, horrify, delight.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
September 26, 2005
This is his most mainstream effort yet, but, he's got those Croneneberg touches of violence. It doesn't glorify the violence, it's not gratuitous, it's sudden, it's shocking.
Top Critic
Keith Phipps
AV Club
September 26, 2005
The film keeps finding the violent underpinnings of everyday life wherever it looks, from the if-it-bleeds-it-leads news coverage that makes Mortensen a local hero, to the social structure of Holmes' high school.
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
September 23, 2005
Packed inside David Cronenberg's latest film, which presents itself as gift-wrapped, shoot-'em-up entertainment, is a sobering reflection on our culture's attitude toward violence.
Top Critic
Mike Clark
USA Today
September 23, 2005
Violence is in the spirit of the hardest-hitting film noir offerings from the '50s, but far more explicit.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
September 23, 2005
It is an assured, potent statement from an auteur who isn't afraid to pack deep thoughts into a movie made for a wide audience.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
September 23, 2005
An absolutely sensational piece of filmmaking.
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
September 23, 2005
Despite the blood, the film follows Cronenberg's marvelous Spider in finding its true horror in the dark corners of the mind.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
September 23, 2005
Although the movie maintains, and benefits from, the bare bones of a straight-up action story, what emerges onscreen is deeper and more interesting.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 23, 2005
Other films this year will have to sweat bullets to match the explosive power and subversive wit of David Cronenberg's A History of Violence.
| Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 23, 2005
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
September 23, 2005
As a history of Cronenberg, it's a good introductory lecture, detailing his careful composition, mastery of unease and complicated thematic interests. As a Cronenberg film though, it's figuratively bloodless, without any real body to it at all.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 23, 2005
A History of Violence is solid entertainment value for the money, but those who think it's saying anything new or profound are kidding themselves.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
September 23, 2005
A lot is going on in David Cronenberg's masterful A History of Violence, and you'll miss it if you blink.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
September 23, 2005
Cronenberg, like Count Basie on the piano or Hemingway on the page, has mastered the art of economy, paring down his work to its thematic essentials without any loss, and even some gain, in textured complexity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
September 23, 2005
At the very least it's oddly admirable, at its best it's both passionate and disturbing, two words that come close to describing all of Cronenberg's work.
| Original Score: B
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
September 23, 2005
I defy anyone who sees the opening sequence of A History of Violence not to be drawn into buying a ticket.
| Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
September 23, 2005
The movie's brilliance resides in its use of cinematic convention to shatter an illusion of social normalcy.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
September 22, 2005
A History of Violence is shrewd, penetrating and, yes, entertaining. It's also one of the best films of the year.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
September 22, 2005
A gripping, incendiary, casually subversive piece of work that marries pulp watchability with larger concerns without skipping a beat.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Gene Seymour
Newsday
September 22, 2005
With confidence and authority that should cement his leading-man status, Mortensen ably manipulates the tension of a man who's struggling to escape his past as a professional killer and to protect his family from the consequences of his legacy.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
September 22, 2005
A masterpiece of indirection and pure visceral thrills, David Cronenberg's latest mindblower is the feel-good, feel-bad movie of the year.
| Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 22, 2005
Cronenberg's movie is eerily compelling and darkly humorous. And chilling -- to the bone.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Allison Benedikt
Chicago Tribune
September 22, 2005
Cronenberg crafts a remarkably interesting thriller, with suspense that is less about what's coming around the corner--often, we know--and more about Tom's slow transformation in the face of terror.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 22, 2005
This is not a movie about plot, but about character. It is about how people turn out the way they do, and about whether the world sometimes functions like a fool's paradise.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
September 15, 2005
It's possible to imagine the film playing as an action crowd-pleaser to a mainstream genre audience that may not be a bit perturbed by (or even aware of) Cronenberg's stealthy unraveling of the threads of this American life.
Top Critic
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
May 24, 2005
Cronenberg's movie manages to have its cake and eat it -- impersonating an action flick in its staccato mayhem while questioning these violent attractions every step of the way.
Top Critic
Ray Bennett
Hollywood Reporter
May 17, 2005
It should delight mainstream audiences who prefer their action pictures to have some depth of character, several twists in the plot and a satisfying conclusion.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
May 17, 2005
Coming from Cronenberg, the question arises: Is that all there is?