A History of Violence movie review - Aussieboyreviews


This excellent thriller centring on themes of violence, crime and past lives is clever, compelling and extremely violent. Viggo Mortensen gives wonderfully-sliced performances throughout the three acts of this film.


Tom Stall, an ordinary family man who owns a small-town diner, becomes known as a local hero after he stops an attempted robbery through an act of violence. But when Tom is apparently recognised by a strange and threatening man, he must confront his past to make things right.

Movie Images

Movie details

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes, Peter MacNeill, Heidi Hayes
Writer: Josh Olson
Release Date (Australia): 23 February 2006
Runtime: 96 minutes/1h 36m
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime
Country: USA, Canada
Language: English

CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)

Themes (MA15+)

The film contains crime themes, acts of violence and depictions of bullying, murder and sexual assault.

Violence (MA15+)

The film contains strong violence in the form of shootings that are accompanied by graphic depictions of blood and injury detail. There are also bloody depictions of fights that include punching, kicking and strangulation.

Coarse Language (M)

The film contains aggressive use of the word “f**k” and use of the words “s**t”, “son of a bitch”, “ass”, “**shole”, “c**k”, “prick” and “goddamn”.

Drug Use (PG)

The film contains a brief scene of drug use, in which two teenagers share a marijuana joint.

Nudity (M)

The film contains a brief depiction of female frontal nudity, as well as sex scenes that feature buttocks nudity.

Sex (MA15+)

The film contains a strong depiction of oral sex and a lengthy scene in which a couple violently have sex on a staircase.

mpaa rating

R (for strong brutal violence, graphic sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use)

Aussie boy's thoughts

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect is how Viggo Mortensen is able to ever so slightly shift his performance in each act of the film, giving emphasis to the expected yet surprising plot twists the film delivers. A History of Violence is a thriller you may find somewhat predictable at times, but it’s not an issue here because it features perfect character storytelling throughout its three extraordinary acts.

Here’s everything you need to know: the film is centred on a married family man who becomes a local hero through the act of preventing a robbery in the small-town diner he owns. The story is written exceptionally by Josh Olson and is directed with talent by David Cronenberg. Don’t go and read any further reviews, and head into this movie unaware of its examination of themes hiding under its wing.

Before getting to what shines about this movie, it’s important to note that there are a few big plot holes that will likely stagger the average viewer, and the way the family is introduced as so perfect and loving is likely to make you cringe. But these are such minor issues that are completely overlooked by the adult performances in the movie. Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello absolutely glow; they both deliver a relationship that ends up facing arguments as the plot unfolds. Ed Harris, William Hurt and Peter MacNeill are also fantastic in their supporting roles.

Thanks to the performances, screenplay, cinematography, and the dialogue that manages to remain completely understandable whilst the themes are pretty heavy, A History of Violence is a very intense and exciting thriller. It’s also extremely violent, with an abundance of scenes depicting bloody injuries and violence very realistically. With the perfect runtime being just over 90 minutes, it’s never boring and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Watch A History of Violence if you’re looking to be gripped into learning about a character who isn’t the same man he seems to be.

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