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When a pair of petty criminals attempt to rob his small-town diner, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) quickly and easily kills them both, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.
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.
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
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
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.
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 07, 2012
New York Magazine/Vulture
A remarkably convincing examination of heroism, hero worship, and the seductive allure of villainy.
May 12, 2006
The film, based on a graphic novel, has a crackling sense of visual tension.