Ed Harris relishes the opportunities to play with menace. Each time, he simply chews scenery across both the big screen and small, making audiences even care, sometimes, about the bad men he portrays. One of these movies, one of these roles, is now available for free on the upstart streamer Tubi.
From normal everyday man to hero. That is what sets off the story of A History of Violence. Viggo Mortensen is Tom Stall, a diner owner living in small-town Millbrook, Indiana. One night, Stall is at his diner when two robbers come in to take what they think is theirs. When they threaten one of Tom’s waitresses. Tom jumps into action and with skilled precision, kills both wannabe robbers.
His being a hero to all in the diner makes Tom a local celebrity. Word leaks far enough away that shortly after, Tom gets a visit from Carl Fogarty, a scarred gangster played to the hilt by Ed Harris. Fogarty has a secret, one which he divulges to Tom and whoever is within earshot. Tom’s real name is Joey Cusack and Joey is a former professional hitman from Philadelphia and has dealings with the Irish Mob they need to complete. Of course, Tom denies this.
Carl is a persistent one, though, he didn’t get where he was in the mob without being so. He stalks Tom and his family. The pressure begins to mount.
Meanwhile, Tom’s relationship with his son Jack is strained at best. Jack has turned to violence himself while dealing with a bully at school, something that Tom opposes. Their argument causes Jack to run away, right into the waiting arms of Carl.
With Jack in hand, Carl arrives at Tom’s farm requesting for “Joey” to return to Philadelphia to tend to their unfinished business. Tom finally gives in so they would release his son. But Tom also has other ideas. His slow approach to the waiting car has Carl’s henchmen attempt to force Tom into it. This gives Tom an opportunity to do what he seemingly has a penchant for. Violence and death. He immediately kills the henchmen, turning his fury on Carl. But Carl shoots him and while on the ground, waiting for Carl to finish the job, Tom finally admits he really is Joey.
The gun goes off, but it isn’t Carl’s gun. Jack is standing there, having killed Carl with a shotgun.
Ed Harris makes his presence known quite well through the first hour of the film. It’s a role we’ve seen him play countless times, one he wears convincingly each and every time. A History of Violence is no different.
Tom, now known as Joey, must confront his violent past after the death of Carl. This means Joey has to return to Philadelphia and end his business with the Irish Mob. This also means that he has to confront the bigger problem, his brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt).
When Joey finally meets his brother face-to-face at his brother’s mansion, Richie informs Joey that Joey’s offenses cause the mob to take out their frustrations on Richie, hindering him financially and stopping Richie’s rise within the mob. Richie can’t have that, and he feels Joey must pay.
Brother versus brother all adds up to an explosive and gory end.
The violence in A History of Violence is, as the sex in the film, gratuitous. The film comes from hailed director David Cronenberg from a script by Josh Olson. The film is also based on the graphic novel of the same name, created by John Wagner and Vince Locke.
While fans of the graphic novel weren’t too keen on the changes the film incorporated, the film itself received high praise critically. In fact, William Hurt received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and Olson also received one for Best Adapted Screenplay. Mortensen himself lavished praise on the movie saying to The Hollywood Reporter, “If not the best, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever been in. There’s no such thing as a perfect movie, but in the way that that script was handled, the way it was shot … it’s a perfect film noir movie, or it’s close to perfect I should say.”
Those of you who have followed Cronenberg’s career know what to expect with A History of Violence. The man who brought us such disturbing movies like the 1977 cult classic Rabid that starred then-porn star Marilyn Chambers, the mind (or shall we say head) blowing classic Scanners, Videodrome, the remake of The Fly, and of course, the uber-controversial Crash, a movie in which a scarred scientist car-crash victim uses cars and other victims for sexual pleasure. Cronenberg has never shied away from gratuitous violence and does not bat an eye here.
Ed Harris’ role as Carl is nothing new for Harris. He has seen similar roles in movies such as The Firm, The Rock, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Run All Night. Harris embodies each and every role he takes on, which is why he is routinely considered one of the most talented actors of our time. Take a look at his performance in HBO’s Westworld as the Man in Black and see if you disagree.
Ed Harris doesn’t only do menace well, nor is that all he is known for. He was in James Cameron’s The Abyss, Stephen King’s Needful Things, the popular Apollo 13, and Kodachrome. His latest film has Ed Harris playing General George Patton in Resistance. Up next for Harris is the wildly anticipated follow-up to the 1986 Tom Cruise hit Top Gun, in Top Gun: Maverick.
So, what exactly is Tubi and how does one get it? Well, Tubi is a free streaming service that has made itself available on most devices that can connect to the web. The good thing about Tubi is that one does not need an account to be able to enjoy free movies. You can go to their website at TubiTV.com and see what they have to offer.
Now, by free, Tubi doesn’t charge a monthly fee like most other streaming services. Instead, they show their movies with commercials or ads, making them more like network TV. But this is how they can offer their decent library for free.
Like many of the popular streaming services, Tubi rotates in and out their movies on a fairly regular basis so if you see something you like, you may want to watch it. You can, if you wish, sign up for a free account with the benefit being that if you start a movie with your account, you can stop it midway if necessary and return to your leaving point at another time.
No reason not to check out Tubi and Ed Harris in A History of Violence.