Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a normal family guy running a sleepy diner in a small town. And that’s pretty much the story until one evening, when two armed robbers roll into town and hold Stall and his employees hostage. At this point – unless you’ve seen the trailer or otherwise know the plot in advance – you feel safe guessing where and how A History of Violence might climax. Chances are, though, you’ll have guessed wrong – and not just once.

Violence takes a handful of common thriller themes and mashes them into a shockingly graphic but fearlessly unique stew of fear, anger and primal instincts in a civilized world. Whether such a stew is to your taste is something only you can determine: Violence isn’t graphic for the sake of being so, but you may disagree strongly with that assessment if you’re the type to take offense.

Great stuff – but you’ve been warned. Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt and Ashton Holmes also star. Extras: Director commentary, behind-the-scenes documentary and three features, deleted scenes.

Grade: A