Released in 2005 and directed by David Cronenberg, “A History of Violence” is a gripping exploration of identity, family, and the consequences of one’s past. At the center of the narrative is Tom Stall, portrayed by Viggo Mortensen, whose life takes an unexpected turn when he becomes a local hero after thwarting a violent robbery at his diner. Viggo did a great job in the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and he does an excellent job in this movie.
The film opens with Tom leading a seemingly ordinary life in a small town, running a quaint diner with his wife Edie (Maria Bello) and raising their two children. However, the tranquility shatters one fateful night when two criminals attempt to rob the diner. In a sudden and explosive burst of violence, Tom confronts the assailants, displaying an unexpected and lethal skill in self-defense. His swift and brutal actions not only save the lives of his customers but also turn him into a local hero overnight. There is a fantastic scene where he uses a coffee pot, and hot coffee to great effect. I won’t ruin it for you. Just watch the scene.
The incident brings Tom into the spotlight, with the media and the community lauding his courage and swift action. Yet, as Tom’s heroic image grows, so does the scrutiny into his past. The arrival of mysterious figures from his history raises questions about who Tom Stall really is and the origins of his exceptional combat skills.
The film masterfully delves into the psychological aftermath of violence and heroism. Viggo Mortensen delivers a nuanced performance, capturing Tom’s internal struggle as he grapples with the consequences of his actions and the unveiling of his concealed past. Maria Bello, as Edie, brilliantly portrays the emotional turmoil of a wife who must reconcile the man she thought she knew with the revelations that emerge.
Cronenberg weaves a tense narrative that explores the thin line between hero and villain, challenging conventional notions of identity and morality. The juxtaposition of small-town Americana with the dark undercurrents of Tom’s past creates a cinematic experience that is both thrilling and thought-provoking. Too bad he spilled the coffee. Great movie, though!