David Cronenberg movies are a matter of taste. Some swear by this most eccentric of directors while others believe it is all artifice covering weak material. No matter. A History of Violence is one of Cronenberg’s more straightforward movies and, consequently, one of his best. This thriller is excellent. A History of Violence Blu-ray features a 1:85:1 widescreen presentation with Dolby TrueD and Digital. Of course, the compulsory digital copy is included.
A History of Violence stars Viggo Mortenstern as Tom Stall, a small-town diner owner who gets his name in the new when he does something heroic. This attracts the attention of some Philly mobsters who think Stall is in reality one of them hiding out in the boonies. This forces Tom and his wife to deal with this threat to their family. At the same time, their teenage son has his own issues with the very, very stereotypical school bully.
This thriller is both an action mystery about whether or not Stall is a former mob guy and a cinematic essay on the nature of violence and our capacity for it as well as on the nature of identity. Do not let the “cinematic essay” turn you off from this excellent movie: you do not have to think about Cronenberg’s message if you do not want to; A History of Violence works as pure entertainment.
A History of Violence Blu-ray includes a better than average commentary track with David Cronenberg, deleted scenes, a couple of comparisons between the US and European versions of the movie –not much of a difference--, and a bit about the movie at Cannes.