A Most Violent Year (2014)

most violent year poster 2014 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast and good looking

Slow-burn thriller pace might not be for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  A Most Violent Year

Studio:  FilmNation Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  November 6, 2014 (AFI Fest)/December 31, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


Oil…black gold…Texas Tea…

It is 1981, and Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is on the verge of a major expansion on his heating oil company.  Abel wants to the expansion right and cut all ties to the illegal actions associated with his business and the negative view of the family of his wife Anna Morales (Jessica Chastain).  Unfortunately, it appears that someone doesn’t want it to happen.  Abel’s trucks are being hit by robbers and the government is investigating his company…when the fight becomes personal, Abel must take action, but can he do what is necessary?


Ready to go against your morals and destroy everything you’re working for?

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year is a crime thriller.  The movie was well received by critics and the winner of a number of awards.

A Most Violent Year has a lot going for it.  The writer is smart, the cast is smart, and the stylized setting of early ’80s New York City provides a lush environment.  The only thing not going for A Most Violent Year is that it is a rather misleading film…many might go into expecting a hard core mob thriller (along the lines of The Godfather or GoodFellas).  Instead, you get a smart, slow burning thriller that might not have as much action as you’d expect.


I’m totally going to get violent…most violent

Despite being good, there is an odd “I’ve seen this” feeling to A Most Violent Year with a specific film.  The movie feels like an American take on The Long Good Friday (1980) which starred Bob Hoskins and Hellen Mirren.  Rather than take away from A Most Violent Year, this tie enhances it and provides it as almost an American flipside.

The movie is very slow paced.  It is almost a tease in that you keep expecting something major to happen and the conclusion of the film has a big event, but it isn’t the typical guns blazing that you might expect.  It is this rather simpler turn that gives the film a sense of realism, but still manages to keep you guessing what might occur.  A second viewing of A Most Violent Year might change the viewing experience to know where the film is going.


Do I have to do everything?

The film also has a great cast.  Oscar Isaac is one of the up-and-coming actors out there and he’s teamed with Jessica Chastain who continues to prove she’s on her way to be one of the better actresses around in her almost Lady MacBeth-style role.  Albert Brooks is a bit of a strange choice but it reunites Isaacs with Brooks who appeared with him in Drive.  Javier Bardem was originally cast in the lead but Bardem stepped out…a script this strong and either actor probably would have worked since they are both strong.

The ’80s setting also is good.  It gives a gritty feeling (another tie to The Long Good Friday).   The movie has a low-tech feel that reminds you how hard it was to actually enforce something like attacks on trucks (and calling the police meant actually pulling over and calling them).

A Most Violent Year is a solid movie, but you can’t go into it with expectations of what you think it might be.  The movie is more drama than thriller and the increasing danger is a slow-building feel.  The movie is a showcase for the actors and leaves me wanting to see more from J.C. Chandor who could prove to be a new voice in movies.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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