Okay, despite being ethnically challenged, I must say that David Cronenberg is one of my favourite contemporary filmmakers. eXistenZ, however, was disappointing, while Spider succeeded above all expectations. Cronenberg's latest, A History of Violence, falls somewhere between these two.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen -- who looks quite a bit older than he did when playing Aragorn) is a mild-mannered family man who runs a small coffee shop in Smalltown, USA. Until two small-time crooks make the mistake of thinking his business is an easy target. Stall promptly and efficiently executes them, which makes him a hero in the community, but also raises some difficult questions...

As the title suggests, this film is about violence; violence as it really happens, something that is never "cool" or funny, no matter how retards such as Tarantino would like to make it seem. Cronenberg depicts violence as I suppose it really is: ugly, disturbing, and leaving permanent scars in the soul.

Mortensen handles his role well, if not spectacularly (I still maintain that he is overrated as an actor). But he absolutely pales in comparison to Ed Harris, whom I've seen deliver a performance anywhere below fantastic. Harris plays Carl Fogarty, a gangster acquaintace from Stall's past, in a role that seems tailor-made for him.

The unimpressive bottle-blonde Maria Bello plays Stall's wife. There is a gratuitous nude scene, which might as well have ended on the editing room floor -- why show off when you have nothing much to show ?!? eyes:

Cronenberg would not be Cronenberg if he did not try to squeeze some psychosexual trauma out of the situation, but really, the suggestion that the wife may be turned on sexually by her husband's violent, evil past was terribly predictable, and so routinely handled that it seems Cronenberg himself realises this.

All in all, nowhere near Cronenberg's finest work, but still worth watching as a somewhat-above-average thriller.