I came in to this film knowing absolutely nothing about it apart it being directed by David Cronenberg and it receiving a fair amount of critical acclaim on it's initial release . This isn't necessarily a bad thing because at the heart of the story is the mystery surrounding protagonist Tom Stall who becomes an unwilling hero when two armed robbers walk in to his restaurant one night . At this point I was expecting to see a film dealing with a reluctant hero finding themselves trying to cope with celebrity culture and having a reputation that other lesser mortals want to test in the most basic and violent form ie " Let's see if tough guy Tom Stall is really that tough "
Viggo Mortenson plays Stall in his usual convincingly understated manner and one wonders why he isn't a bigger name in Hollywood ? Possibly because he's an actor rather than a star and doesn't Stall in a showey manner , just an average family man wanting to get on with his life and the film does emphasise his everyman nature . The film does three distinct acts , Tom the family man , the mystery involving Tom and finally the showdown featuring Tom the man with a violent past
The problem is that the first third is slightly slow which isn't necessarily a criticism , the second third is very intriguing and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats but the final third is fairly daft . Fair enough it's not too difficult to buy in to the idea that Tom was once involved with the mob but the violent climax at the home of mob boss Richie Cusack is rather ridiculous as he dispatches bad guys who in these type of movies stand around watching their colleagues get beaten to a pulp and not intervening till the good guy manages to get hold of a gun and only then does the bad guy pull out his own shooter only to get shot by the good guy . You've seen this all too often in straight to DVD releases and for two thirds of the way through you're aware that this is too far good to be anywhere near a Steven Seagal straight to DVD movie