Silent Night

December 1, 202360/1006 min
Starring
Joel Kinnaman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kid Cudi, Harold Torres
Written by
Robert Archer Lynn
Directed by
John Woo
Run Time
1h 44min
Release Date
December 1st, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

Some might argue that when it comes to certain things, words can just get in the way. Writer Robert Archer Lynn and legendary director John Woo appear to be people who believe that, as they have delivered a movie with little to no dialogue. I mean, sure, some of the best one-liners have come from action movies, but why have meaningless words, when you can say them though action? This is something that I can dig for sure, and to utter some of those famous words for all who are about to watch, “Welcome to the party pal!”

On some random day, Brian (Joel Kinnaman) and Saya (Catalina Sandino Moreno) are outside playing with their kid. Out of nowhere, two vehicles come around the corner exchanging gunfire with each other, not caring who they hit. One bullet strikes the kid, killing him. Brian chases after the vehicle, and after catching them, he is able to take out a few; he also is shot multiple times by a guy with a face tattoo. Although he almost dies, Brian pulls through, but loses the ability to speak, and the loss of his son has already killed him. As time passes, Brian goes from drinking way too much to finding inspiration in his son’s tricycle to get motivated. Saya, though, has had enough and leaves Brian so that she can move on with her life. Brian starts working out and begins to plan his revenge, learning the skills needed to pull it off. He sets the date, one year from his son’s death, and does the legwork to see it through, setting up one hell of a revenge story.

There are not many people who could helm a movie like this and pull it off; luckily, John Woo might be near the top of that list. Woo, who has made some of the great action movies of all time (including 1989’s The Killer which is probably his greatest), shows that it’s never too late to evolve. Gone are the white doves, but what isn’t missing is the impossible shots, violence that it unleashed, and some incredible action sequences. It is good to have a man behind the camera like Woo because, with the lack of words, for the most part, telling you what is going on, Woo has to do it all visually. Although doing something like this could feel like a gimmick, Silent Night never comes off as such or even as a stylistic exercise. No, instead, it feels very much an element of the story, and you will be glad that choice was made.

If you have read up to this point, then you already know more than I did going into Silent Night, and I wish you could go in blind as well. All I knew was that I was watching a new John Woo movie, and to be honest, that’s all I needed to know. This is no doubt a triumphant return for Woo, who breathes new life into the revenge genre. It is not all roses though, as some not-so-good CGI (why did they have to use CGI blood?) make you long for the days of things done real. With that said, ultimately it doesn’t matter, as Silent Night charges at full speed with its tale of vengeance. This is not for everyone, especially if you need everything non-stop action, but for lovers of creative and classic action, be prepared to be Woo-ed again.

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