McNeill Mullikin’s review published on Letterboxd:
A History if Violence is a film I have wanted to see for a while. I had no expectations for this film because I hardly knew anything about it other than Viggo Mortensen’s acclaimed performance and that it’s based on a comic-book. That’s all anybody needs to know going into this movie to let the mystery unfold.
Right out of the gate, the movie opens up with a few incredibly intense sequences that had me on the edge of my seat. I felt fearful for the small town characters in the movie and the situation, created by the bad guys, made me uneasy. The film is also really good with initially making the audience like Viggo Mortensen’s character, Tom Stall, which plays nicely for how the story pans out.
The story is genuinely fascinating and complex. It deals with not just Tom’s past life, but also his identity and values. These themes pair well with the suspenseful tone of the film, as the story and the atmosphere make audiences wonder what will happen next. Howard Shore’s score is also fantastic and brings the moody narrative to life.
Though there are some intense and brutal action sequences, A History of Violence is fairly light on the action, which I enjoyed, so it could hone in on the thriller genre. But when the action does take place, it is ruthless, bloody, and uncompromising. It’s not the type of action that has you wanting to jump out of your seat applauding for the protagonist, it makes you afraid of everyone.
A History of Violence is an incredible thriller that I wish I had seen sooner. Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt were each at the top of their game in this film with their performances. David Cronenberg brilliantly directed this film, and it’s easily my favorite from what I’ve seen of his filmography. If you haven’t checked out A History of Violence, sleep on it no further, as it is a must watch.