The film in question is the 2005 crime thriller A History of Violence, which was adapted from a graphic novel of the same name. First published in 1997 through DC Comics’ now-defunct Vertigo imprint, the book remains one of the strongest offerings in the Vertigo vaults.
As for the film, the heart-pounding thriller — about an average Midwesterner named Tom Stall whose life unravels after he brutally defends his small-town diner from two violent thugs — is arguably the best of Cronenberg’s collaborations with Viggo Mortensen, the actor, to date himself told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 that he thinks it’s one of the best films he’s been in.
If you’ve seen (or read) A History of Violence, you know there’s more to Tom’s story than meets the eye. Mortensen is at his best here, plumbing the depths of despair and unholy menace as Tom’s past comes into shocking focus. For his part, Cronenberg lets the action unfold with the unnerving determination of a voyeur watching a car crash in slow motion. What they conjure up in the mix is a stylish, soul-piercing crime drama packed with all the physical, psychological, and emotional carnage you’d expect from a Cronenberg film wrapped in a low-key action film arc. This makes for a film that Collider ranks among the best graphic novel adaptations ever made.
In a hilarious twist of fate, David Cronenberg is apparently unsure if he actually adapted a graphic novel, with writer telling Movieweb in 2005, “I didn’t know anything about the source material. In the end, I really treated it like it was an original script, so I can’t really say I made a graphic novel adaptation.”