Moving along with my movie binge this week, I caught A History of Violence starring Viggo Mortensen. I ordinarily would not have opted to see it, but when I learned it was adapted from a graphic novel, well, that clinched it for me.
Violence is a taut little drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat. No overdone histrionics here, just a very effective economy of acting. Even the camera work looks bland with their eye-level shots, but this blandness only serves to highlight the suspense.
The plot is simple: Tom Stall (Mortensen) is a proprietor of a small-town diner who finds himself thrust into the limelight after he swiftly dispatches two killers who attempt to rob his shop. That's when his troubles begin as mobsters from Philadelphia pay him and his family a visit. They say he is not who he claims to be.
The suspense draws largely from the sinister undertones of the mafiosi. It's never overt, always implied, up until the last moment. You feel for Tom and his family. The action, too, is quick, simple, and effective. There are no drawn out gunfights. That simply reinforces the atmosphere.
Of course, underneath this story is they typical male power fantasy which draws from Tom Stall's effectiveness as a killer. Who wouldn't want to turn into an efficient cold-blooded killer when their family is threatened? But this, in turn, is counterbalanced by feelings of dread and loss.
Certainly worth a watch.