A History of Violence

Rated 4.0

When he kills two would-be robbers, the owner (Viggo Mortensen) of a diner in a small Indiana town becomes a reluctant hero—but also attracts the attention of a vicious-looking gangster (Ed Harris) who seems to think he’s somebody else. Then, later on, William Hurt shows up in a vividly malevolent cameo as a murderous crime boss. Director David Cronenberg and writer Josh Olson (adapting the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke) seem to be saying something about our predilection for violence and the thin veneer of civilization; it’s ironic, then, that Cronenberg himself doesn’t seem comfortable with the story until the bullets begin to fly. But when they do, the movie starts firing on all cylinders and crackles with excitement right through until the shattering, cautiously hopeful end.