Real men break kneecaps, not eggs
Given the option of being a hot-tempered Mafia prince or an Indiana diner owner, most men would choose organized crime over life as a happy Hoosier.
In other words, real men would rather break kneecaps than eggs.
Such is the case of Tom Stalls, (Viggo Mortensen) a hunky slice of Midwest beef steak, who tries to outrun a questionable past in the highly worthy drama “A History of Violence.”
When we first meet Tom, he’s the ideal Red State American. He’s a respected small business owner, father of two, and hubby to a lusty little number with a taste for oral pleasure, cheerleader outfits and vigorous stairwell sex.
Tom’s Middle American life isn’t exactly the Beaver Cleaver clan. Then again, Tom isn’t as awe-shucks wholesome as he wants us to believe.
In fact, Tom’s a fraud who relocated to Indiana years ago when he broke free from his mobster buddies in Philadelphia. The exit came after Tom went Tony Soprano on a made man’s ass.
Free from the binds of omerta, Tom created a Red State paradise. He hooked up with the local prom queen, opened a greasy spoon and bred like Secretariat.
But this over-easy lifestyle goes into deep fry mode when two serial murderers cruise into Tom’s friendly diner to rob, rape and thrill kill between bites of banana cream pie.
That’s when Tom’s inner street thug comes to the fold. Tom sheds his peaceful hobbit-like ways and becomes as deadly as an Orc from Mordor. Apparently, you can take the man out of the mob, but you can’t take the mob out of the man.
With the trash taken out, Tom figures he can return to child rearing and staircase shenanigans. Unfortunately, Tom’s deed does not go unnoticed – or unpunished.
Thanks to the magic of modern media, Tom’s heroics – and his extremely handsome mug – are plastered across the planet. A second round of ultra violence begins after his old crew mates from Philly visit Indiana to help remind the lost soul about his distant past.
Ed Harris, an actor who has the uncanny skill of always landing good roles in excellent films, walks into the diner dressed like someone out of “Men in Black.” But his menacing character, Carl Fogarty, is no super secret agent fighting hidden space aliens. Rather, Fogarty is a high-level grocery clerk for the Mob, sent to collect a bill on behalf of Tom’s betters in Philadelphia.
Tom plays the Midwestern rube at first, telling the thugs they’ve got the wrong man. Though 16 years have passed since their last encounter, Fogarty can’t forget the punk who carved out his left eye with barbed wire.
Fogarty might be a cyclops, but he knows Tom’s real name is Joey, and that the friendly fry cook is actually kid brother to a Philadelphia Mafia kingpin.
Soon we are treated to a series of graphic killings. Next thing you know, Tom’s sexy wife isn’t sure if she’s bedding a hunk or a hit man. But like all cheerleader types, she favors bad boys and shows her old school pride in a manner befitting a porn star.
All that’s left is for Tom/Joey to man up and deal with his “broheim,” a classy mobster played by William Hurt.
In the end, Philadelphia proves to be anything but a place of brotherly love once the long lost siblings meet and settle their differences.
Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater for cannoli.
Nickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who believes that bones, like laws, are made to be broken.
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