A History of Violence


A History of Violence

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 213


Audience Score

User Ratings: 279,913
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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. Uncomfortable with his newfound celebrity, Tom tries to return to the normalcy of his ordinary life only to be confronted by a mysterious and threatening man who arrives in town believing Tom is the man who's wronged him in the past. As Tom and his family fight back against this case of mistaken identity and struggle to cope with their changed reality, they are forced to confront their relationships and the divisive issues which surface as a result.


Viggo Mortensen
as Tom Stall
Maria Bello
as Edie Stall
Ed Harris
as Carl Fogarty
William Hurt
as Richie Cusack
Ashton Holmes
as Jack Stall
Peter MacNeill
as Sheriff Sam Carney
Stephen McHattie
as Leland Jones
Greg Bryk
as William Orser
Sumela Kay
as Judy Danvers
Kyle Schmid
as Bobby Jordan
Heidi Hayes
as Sarah Stall
Aidan Devine
as Charlie Roarke
Bill MacDonald
as Frank Mulligan
Michelle McCree
as Jenny Wyeth
Morgan Kelly
as Bobby's Buddy
Martha Reilly
as Shoe Saleswoman
Jason Barbeck
as Richie's Thug
Bruce Beaton
as Richie's Thug
Neven Pajkic
as Richie's Thug
Brendan Connor
as Local TV Reporter
Nick Antonacci
as Local TV Reporter
John Watson
as Baseball Coach
Don Allison
as TV Broadcaster
Brittany Payer
as Motel Girl
Mitch Boughs
as Kid in Diner
April Mullen
as Kid in Diner
George King
as Hospital Well-Wisher
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Critic Reviews for A History of Violence

All Critics (213) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (186) | Rotten (27)

Audience Reviews for A History of Violence

  • Sep 11, 2018
    Probably Cronenberg's most mundane work, but that's not even remotely a knock against A History of Violence. I hear tell that fans of the comic don't much like this big screen re-telling, but I've never read it, so I'm gonna go ahead and really enjoy it anyway.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2016
    A History of Violence stars Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall, a restaurant owner in small town Indiana living with his wife (Maria Bello) and two kids. Tom's life takes a turn when he stops two robbers attempting to murder his customers and steal his money. I had no prior knowledge going into this movie aside from the fact that it's on the list of YouTube film critic Chris Stuckmann's "50 movies of the 2000's to see before you die." I was immediately intrigued by the opening sequence involving the two robbers, and Mortensen and family reeled me in the rest of the way. The family dynamic was effectively established, especially between Mortensen and Bello. The teenage son, played by Ashton Holmes, also played a big role, clearly developing his arc based on his father's actions. The school bully the son has to deal with was ridiculously overacted, though. I used the word "intriguing" earlier, and that's how I'd define this movie overall. Without spoiling anything, I will say that Mortensen delivers a heck of a performance with extreme contrasts in his character motives. The movie is equal parts cause and effect, my favorite aspect being the effect. There's a scene before the final act that really stands out, and, unfortunately, the movie dies down from there. William Hurt's character is introduced with under 20 minutes left of film (including credits), and his average performance garnered him an Oscar nomination for supporting actor despite having less screen time than Godzilla in the new Godzilla movie (under 7 minutes - I went back and timed it). He wasn't bad, but there wasn't enough there to justify the nomination. Overall, A History of Violence is a solid movie about family dynamics. Despite a weak ending, I enjoyed Mortensen and Bello a lot. If you enjoy solid acting and don't mind a bit of blood, give this one a watch. Final grade: B-
    Ben B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 06, 2013
    A mundane and dire crime drama, A History of Violence is a poorly adapted graphic novel. The story follows a mild-mannered diner owner named Tom Stall who becomes a celebrated hero after thwarting a robbery, but his fame soon attracts a Philadelphia mob boss who suspect that he's actually a hitman named Joey Cusack. The casting is especially impressive, and includes Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt. However, David Cronenberg's directing doesn't work for the material; it's raw and slow-paced, with no clear focus. A History of Violence has some interesting concepts, but the execution's weak.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 19, 2012
    Superficially it looks and plays like a common thriller but when you start digging deep onto the characters and motivates their violent acts, things start to get rather scary and unpredictable and that's the true success of one of the most straightforward Cronenberg's flick. Boosted by brilliant performances with a great balance between tender, sappy moments and truly striking violent imagery, A History of Violence is a nice change in narrative format from Cronenberg with great results that appeal to a more mainstream audiences.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer

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