A History of Violence

6 Apr


A quick note – I am trialing a new scoring system with my reviews. I will break a film into three categories. Each category will be scored out of 5. I will then add the scores up to give a final mark out of 15.

Any feedback on how you think this system works will be much appreciated. Thanks.

Anyway, on with the review…Image

Plot and Story Telling

When Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) has his diner held up late one night, and a female employee is threatened, Tom comes to the rescue with an act of violence. Suddenly transformed from everyday, normal kind of guy, he finds himself the subject of media attention. The press are painting him as an American hero.

Unfortunately for Tom, there are some bad people from a past life who recognise his face in the papers and make it their business to find him. Uh-oh!

Ok, so the premise isn’t too bad. There’ are the makings of a potentially decent thriller. A normal guy turns out to have a dodgy history, with a few twists and turns thrown in to keep you interested. Instead, what we’re given is a plodding story where you’re never really left guessing about anything. It’s all very transparent. We also get a side story in which Tom’s son, Jack (Ashton Holmes) is bullied at school, apparently because he won a game of baseball. It all seems rather pointless as it has no bearing on the character development of anybody here.

There’s lots of blood, sent splattering from people’s faces in poorly choreographed fight scenes. And we also get two really odd and out of place sex scenes that are completely ill-fitting on the characters involved.

A reasonable premise is ruined by appalling story craft. It’s predictability is a small mercy, removing any element of thought you might have been giving this movie.



A poor film allows for hardly any good to take place. Viggo Mortensen, Mara Bello (as Mortensen’s on-screen wife, Edie Stall) and Ashton Holmes have no chemistry at all. They don’t work well together on screen and their performances feel so forced and over-sincere that at times it makes for uncomfortable viewing. Several times I found myself sniggering at key scenes that weren’t supposed to be funny, which is never a positive thing.

There is one reasonable performance that makes for one good scene. William Hurt steals the film (which is barely a compliment to be honest) with his turn as Richie Cusack. His dialogue is the best in the film and he delivers it well. If he’d been afforded a bigger role, this film might have been more bearable.




There isn’t much else to write about to be honest. There’s some music that is as bad as the film itself. It doesn’t fit and adds absolutely nothing to what you’re watching. I did notice several times during this movie just how badly it is edited. Several times a character is holding a pose, for example they have their arms crossed, only to be in a different pose a second later despite no movement taking place. It’s sloppy and careless and only added to the overall feel of a poor film.



Make no mistake, A History of Violence is a bad film in all of the ways that a film can be bad. It has hardly any redeeming features and feels like a soap opera that has been produced on a particularly low budget. Avoid at all costs.

Final Score: 5/15


One Response to “A History of Violence”

  1. biggreenjelly April 6, 2013 at 22:15 #

    I certainly didn’t hate the film as much as you did. I thought that the violence towards the end was well done and I also think that there are a couple of excellent performances in it. I agree with pretty much everything else though.

    As for the rating system, I like it as an idea but decided against it myself because I thought it might be limiting. I also worried about how I’d feel rating say a great film with poor acting 5,4,2 and an average film 2,3,4 and be left with two very differing opinions but similar scores. Still, it’s worth trying for a while at least. Will you go back and re-mark your previous reviews? Also, you missed the ‘2’ from the bottom of ‘acting’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: