Box art for A History Of Violence

A History Of Violence

action & adventure, thrillers

An average family is thrust into the spotlight after the father (Viggo Mortensen) commits a seemingly self-defense murder at his diner.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Complex examination of violence; not for kids.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is not for kids. It features brutal, deft violence (based on a graphic novel, the film's title is indicative of its focus). It opens with a scene showing dead, bloody bodies (after the murders take place), then shows frequent violent acts, including bone-cracking martial arts, hand-to-hand fighting (one character has his nose pushed through his skull), shooting, knifing, and strangling. It also includes fairly explicit sexual material (including passionate kissing, a cunnilingus scene, and a frankly rough intercourse scene on a stairway). Characters curse frequently, smoke, drink, and do drugs.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the way violence destroys families in the film. Not only does Tom's current family come to distrust him once he kills the men in the diner and is identified as a former gangster, but also, his relationship with his brother, premised on violent macho codes, can only end badly. How does the movie suggest that violence is "hereditary"? How is also not so much "genetic" (as Jack's transformation when he stands up to the bullies seems as metaphorical as it is literal), but more culturally conditioned? How does the movie critique media (movies, tv news) as they celebrate violence as a means to masculine identity?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Mr. Cronenberg has imbued his narrative with a style of personal conviction that is found in only the greatest auteurs.

- Andrew Sarris, New York Observer, Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fresh: 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.

- Bill Muller, Arizona Republic, Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fresh: 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.

- Bruce Newman, San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, September 29, 2005

Audience Reviews

4 stars

I think this is a really good movie. Sure, it got way too much praise and is over analyzed, but that doesn't take away from it being good. Ed Harris totally dominates the movie as being a completely creepy villain, reminding me of a 70s henchman. Viggo Mortensen is good too, much of the movie is him playing a double life. While this doesn't have the composition and style that some of David Cronenberg's earlier work does, it gets the job done fine.

- ythelastman89, Friday, August 27, 2010

4 stars

a really amazing, thrilling movie. sn instant classic. i loved it. A-

- bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb1, Wednesday, July 28, 2010

1 star

Considering I'm a big David Cronenberg fan, I was surprised that this film was pretty bad. This is the second Cronenberg film that I hated, the first being 1996's Crash. The story had potential, but after a while the film gets tiring and not that interesting. The cast is good, but the film just doesn't work for me. I give this one star for Viggo Mortissen and William Hurt's performances.

- TheDudeLebowski65, Thursday, July 15, 2010