Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring||Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes|
|Producer||Kent Alterman, David Cronenberg, Cale Boyter|
|Distributor||New Line Cinema|
How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer
Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?
Survival of the fittest—Critic Roger Ebert has quoted Director David Cronenberg as saying “I am a complete Darwinian.” According to Ebert this film “is in many ways about the survival of the fittest — at all costs.”
Some Biblical heroes:
“Tom Stall had the perfect life… until he became a hero.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “‘A History of Violence’ stars Viggo Mortensen as a pillar of a small town community who runs a diner and lives a happy and quiet life with his wife (Maria Bello) and two children. But their lives are forever changed when Mortensen thwarts an attempted robbery and is lauded as a hero by the media, attracting the attention of some mobsters (William Hurt and Ed Harris) who believe he is someone else.”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells a man that he must be born again. In A History of Violence there is a kind of analogy to this idea of being born again, and shows that this process is not always the easiest path. Still, one theme that comes across very clear is that people are in fact able to change.
Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) lives peacefully with his family in the small, quiet town of Millbrook, Indiana. After fighting off two murderers at the diner he owns and operates, Tom suddenly becomes a hero and attracts national attention. Now Tom is not only famous, but also a target for some mysterious mobsters who encroach on him, his family and his way of life. The only way out for Tom is to confront these men head on.
The title alone to this movie is a clear indicator concerning its content. There are many graphically violent incidents throughout and some grotesque images of people fatally wounded. Furthermore, there is also some foul language, including God’s name being taken in vain and the f-word. Beyond that, there are a few intense sex scenes involving nudity and explicit situations. This film is a very strong rated R movie.
Tom Stall’s wife, Edie Stall (Maria Bello) tells him that he is the best man she has ever known. At another point, Tom tells her, “I wasn’t born again until I met you.” At his diner, one of the patrons makes an off-handed comment to Tom saying, “I’ll see you in church.” Tom is obviously a decent, honest man with a good reputation with his town. He is a man passionately in love with his wife and has two outstanding children. In many ways, Tom’s life is a very ideal one—but it has not always been this way.
Tom’s change of life in this story gives us a good analogy of what it is like for someone when they turn their life over to Christ. The old life passes away and the new life comes. The old man (sinful nature) has to completely die, while the new life of Christ Jesus takes its place, allowing God to live through us. The conflict in this story is centered around one man who must fully commit to the good choices he has made and completely cut himself off from the old way of life he used to know. One scene even involves a kind of baptism, if you will, showing Tom washing himself in a lake with water. It happens immediately after he completely cuts himself off from his old way of life.
There are many discussions that could ensue from a film like this one. While it is very violent, there is still an anti-violence message in it, specifically in Tom relating with his teenage son. It’s clear his son begins to follow his path, but there is a significant moment when Tom takes a gun away from his son. It seemed to indicate how Tom is keeping this way of life from being part of his son’s future.
The acting and directing for this film are very rich. It seems it was directed very deliberately, with a clear plot and clear intentions. The filmmaking is very honest and the drama effective. It is a mature film in many respects, and if you can handle some of its content, it could be worth seeing.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
Editor’s note: Critic Roger Ebert has quoted the director of this film (David Cronenberg) as saying “I am a complete Darwinian.” According to Ebert this film “is in many ways about the survival of the fittest — at all costs.”