Since debuting as one of the obscure Amish farmers in 1985’s Witness, Viggo Mortensen has matured into his generation’s Harrison Ford. He ruled as the swashbuckling loner in Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy, and in A History of Violence, David Cronenberg’s deft adaptation of John Wagner and Vince Locke’s graphic novel, he’s the perfect Tom Stall: a decent man in a sleepy town whose surprising act of heroism places his family in danger. Like Ford, he conveys both wholesomeness and raw aggression with such ease that his range of talent can go unrecognized beneath his good looks.
EXTRAS A superior collection of extras provides an all-access guided tour, from hilarious phone recordings of Mortensen learning the local patois from Mario Bello’s Philly-bred uncle to Cronenberg’s video diary of the film’s premiere at Cannes. In contrast to studio-orchestrated DVD retrospectives, the refreshing ”Acts of Violence” documentary is a guerrilla-style chronicle of the production’s spontaneity and collaboration. The camera leans in when the leads discuss last-minute sexual choreography and when Ed Harris provokes Bello with improvised dialogue. Filmmaking 101, from Professor Cronenberg: a prerequisite for negligent Oscar voters.