A History of Violence - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A History of Violence Reviews

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½ February 5, 2017
I didn't know what to expect with this movie at all. I thought Viggo Mortensen was amazing, and he had a role with some real complexity to it. His performance made the rest of the plot work for me, because I genuinely questioned what was happening, and who he was in the past.

The action/violence sequences are powerful and have some great Cronenberg makeup effects in them. It was very well done, and pulled me into each one of those scenes. The stunt work was great, and I never felt like I missed anything because it was filmed well.

There was one aspect that I really hated, and that was the use of Greg Bryk as one of the killers in the opening scene. It threw me off so much because he kind of looked like a young Viggo Mortensen so I thought I was watching a scene of Viggo's past. It didn't make sense until the killers walked into the diner.

There's a very deliberate style to A History of Violence. In many ways it reminded me of the movie Drive (and I mean that in a good way.) It never becomes overly stylized, the main character almost never goes big with his performance but remains understated, and then amongst the quiet and calm the film is accentuated by startling violence.

I felt the movie was lacking something in the plot department, because once you get past the midway point it almost seems to run on autopilot. I was looking for a little something more, but the movie didn't quite deliver that. However there was enough there, and I felt connected to the characters so much that I keep thinking about A History of Violence days later.
January 30, 2017
While David Cronenberg shows his skill to set up a violent story environment, the lack of chemistry between its actors and the thin plot tend to overhelm.
½ January 28, 2017
Horrible film. It made very little sense, and it also had some really gratuitous and graphic sex and violence, while somehow (incredibly) still managing to be slow and boring. I can't believe so many people liked this movie. I was so disappointed. I like Viggo Mortenson and it got great reviews, so I was really looking forward to it. But it was really one of the worst I have ever seen and I created a Rotten Tomatoes account just so I could give this particular movie a bad review.
December 31, 2016
Oh my God the people giving this a high rating... Are they kidding? Watching this is like watching a movie under water. Viggo is a painfully bad actor. The story is so obvious you can see every story point coming for literally miles. The opening scene is laughable. And the two 'baddies' are corny and pathetic. There is not a single surprise in the entire movie. The best thing about it is it's short. No, one other. William Hurt is excellent but only in it briefly. This movie is truly ghastly. Do not be sucked in by the decent reviews.
December 30, 2016
Well , a cool great story , good acting , very exciting ...as a viewer you keep believing Tom Stall, till ...SOMDVD
½ December 22, 2016
La primera opinión que sale en este sitio dice que cuanto menos se sepa de esta película antes de mirarla, mejor, y es así, quien no la ha visto que pare de leer. Seguramente el espectador promedio sospecha una identidad secreta de Tom desde un comienzo, cuando Carl Fogarty el tuerto le dice que se llama Joey, y seguramente el resto de la película no lo toma desprevenido. Yo en cambio, adepto como soy a películas de Lynch donde sujetos siniestros imponen realidades bizarras, me preparé mentalmente para que el protagonista mude de actor a media película, o que el tuerto sea en realidad un producto omnipresente de su imaginación, o algún otro retorcido giro psicológico. Mi ingenuidad me mantuvo pegado a mi mecedor de mirar películas la hora y media de corrido, fascinado de que la aparente mansedumbre crónica de Tom sea en realidad el hábito de mantener hundido su pasado de matón mafioso. Las señales que apuntan a la identidad de Tom pasan desapercibidas la primera vez: enfocan el buzón de la familia Stall, la fachada del café Tom Stall, el puñado de gente que lo saluda por su nombre, el sueño en el que un marido resulta ser un asesino. Demanda ser vista una segunda vez, obligado. 9/10
December 15, 2016
I Think The Small-Town America Setting Makes This Work. The Tone Is Set Right From The Beginning & Delves Deeper As The Intrigue Sets In. The Story Is Low-Level Stuff With A Severe Edge Of Violence, Which Tests How Much You Might Be Willing To Tolerate In Terms Of 'Acceptable Behaviour' As The Lead Character Is Tested Morally & Fundamentally. The Changes In Direction Of Behaviour Force Other Characters To Redefine Themselves..Which Is Ultimately What This Is All About.
½ December 7, 2016
What a compelling and mesmerizing film. "A History of Violence" is one of my favorite Cronenberg films and the one that I revisit every once in a while. Well-directed, well-acted, and well-executed. I love this movie so much.
November 29, 2016
I really liked this. Very unexpected
½ November 20, 2016
Feels very 90s, especially the soundtrack.
November 5, 2016
I have seen films about the ordinary small town man haunted by his past and he has to revert to the person he once was before but A History of Violence does it so well. Viggo Mortensen has said that this was his favourite character to play and for good reason. All of these characters are deep and complex and the drama and tension they go through is really intense. This film isn't a shoot 'em up movie with bodies flying left, right and centre but whenever violence does need to come into play in the story, man is it some brutal violence. I'm talking Django Unchained level of violence but without the large bodycount. This is a really good movie. It's on Netflix. Check it out!
October 28, 2016
A very overlooked film that shows Viggo at one of his best performances, History of Violence delivers as a thriller and a mystery film that shows how no one can escape the past.
½ October 16, 2016
What fascinates me about this movie isn't actually the premise for the film itself, but it's implications. This movie suggests that violence isn't enstiled in people themselves, but the circumstances those people find themselves in. Also the fact that for the premise that this movie has it isn't particularly masculine. Its very subdued and impartial which was interesting to me. This could've easily just been an action movie, but in the hands of David Cronenberg it became something entirely different and all together better.
October 16, 2016
A History of Violence is a very intense movie with great performances by everyone.
Super Reviewer
½ October 10, 2016
Flat out fantastic movie. Viggo takes this one by the reigns and never lets go. Lots of bloody violence, but the story is compelling and believable enough that you end up tagging along.
September 24, 2016
It has great dramatic tension and an intriguing story. My only complaint is that I would have preferred to see the second act extended and the third act diminished.

Grade: A-
September 13, 2016
Viggo Mortensen is Tom Stall in A History of Violence, a must see shocking drama with some startling moments of reality! I really enjoyed this movie for the performance from Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
September 6, 2016
Not the most highly developed backstory of all time, but it was good. Could've done without the gratuitous 69 scene. The wife is a freak.
August 28, 2016
I first saw A History of Violence back in 2006. I thought it was a perfect movie at the time. Ten years later, I've watched it again for what has to be the forty-ninth time and I'm still struggling to find something wrong with it. My cons are literally empty, folks. There's my tagline.

Who is Joey Cusack? You don't find out until deep into the movie, but you find out very quickly who Tom Stall (Viggo Mortenson) is. Tom is a family man running a diner named after his own surname. He's friendly, quiet, and loved by his wife and two children. Everything is going great in Tom's life until some pretty shady characters show up at his diner accusing him of being a former gangster by the name of Joey Cusack. These men are refusing to leave town and will do whatever is necessary for Tom to come clean and return with them back to Philadelphia.

The dialogue is slow but meaningful. It purposefully helps put your mind in the state of sleepy Millbrook, Indiana. The words are intense and powerful, especially between Tom and his wife Edie (Maria Bello). It appears that Tom and Edie haven't had many problems in the time they were married and they both seem unsure of how to handle this new threat that's now attacking their marriage. Being a part of the audience, you are watching a beautiful disaster unfold. Even during the peaceful times in the film, there's a quiet sense of something floating just underneath the surface. You can't quite put your finger on it, but it's there.

Purposeful. Word of the day. That's what makes this film so powerful and memorable. Every single scene, every single word that's uttered, it all has a purpose.

In the words of Salt 'N' Pepa, "Let's talk about sex." While it doesn't lead me to ever deducting points from a movie, I think a lot of sex scenes in film are unnecessary. For the most part, they never seem to go with the flow of the story, rather they pull you out of it. A History of Violence does have a sex scene and it's a pretty graphic one. Not only does it work for the film, but it's actually one of the more important scenes. It succeeds on multiple levels by homing in on a relationship that's on the rocks and exploring what both characters are desiring at that given time. It's something you have to see to fully understand.

The film grabs you from the first five minutes and never lets go after that. Each character is set up and developed excellently, from Tom's teenage son Jack, a reclusive nerd who just wants to make it through high school without getting his butt kicked, right down to Charlotte (Deborah Drakeford), one of Tom's employees at the diner who has a good soul and an innocent heart. Again these characters are purposeful, serving a vital part in the film's overall story.

And what a grand story A History of Violence turns out to be. I literally have nothing bad to say about it. Therefore, I give a well-deserved 100.
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 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-
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