Silent Night - Film Review

Silent Night - Film Review


Posted 2023-11-30 by Jenfollow
Images © A Better Tomorrow Films, Capstone Studios, Thunder Road Pictures

From legendary director John Woo and the producer of John Wick comes Silent Night . It's a revenge tale of a tormented father (Joel Kinnaman) who witnesses his young son die when caught in a gang’s crossfire on Christmas Eve. He himself sustains a wound that costs him his voice. Returning home after a recovery period in hospital, he is lost, aimless and in mourning. Unmotivated at first, he pulls himself together and makes himself a do-or-die promise that he would avenge his son's death, and goes on a punishing training regime.

Directed by acclaimed Hong Kong-based action director John Woo, Silent Night is his first American film in 20 years. With a run time of 105 minutes, the film stars Joel Kinnaman (The Suicide Squad, Hanna, The Informer, House of Cards), Scott Mescudi, Harold Torres and Catalina Sandino Moreno, and will be in Cinemas on 7 December 2023.

Silent Night is literally a quiet tale that unfolds from the tragedy of a family whose young son dies after being struck by a stray bullet amidst a gang gunfight. It's the festive season and Brian Godlock (Joel Kinnaman) is out in the garden playing with his son, helping him ride his new bike when all hell breaks loose. He shields his son's body with his to protect him, but it's already too late. The police in a flawed system, seem to be getting nowhere in getting justice, even though the gang leader 'Playa'(Harold Torres) who is involved in gun and drug smuggling and other illegal ventures, is known to the authorities. Detective Dennis Vassel (Scott Mescudi) empathises with Brian, but he knows the system does not have the capabilities to appropriately serve him and his wife.

We all have a bad day at work at some time or another, and this has to be one of Woo's. Watching the film, I could feel where the director was trying to go by giving it the 'silent' treatment, but it never makes the journey. The silence was so loud, it was tiring to experience. Without dialogue, Woo works on a new language to tell the story; a visual language that includes costume styles that showcase each character's personality and mission. Tattoos that portrayed the personality and character of the person. Each actor relies on their ability to communicate through available tools and skills that don't require speaking. The silence peppered in general by interwoven external sounds of footsteps, doors shutting, drills operating, cars revving, muted conversations from afar, voices on the two-way radio, bullets flying, and so on.

Deconstructed and in its separateness, the actors do well in playing their parts and perform virtually faultlessly; the scenes work, its iconography and artfulness do a stellar job of portraying the type of environment or culture we're meant to experience as images fill the screen - it seems to fulfil all it's meant to. Yet put together, frustratingly, it doesn't quite seem to gel. The silence is deafening, the emphasis on showing us how hard Brian is working out is overkill and spoon-fed to the audience if only to fill the time, the focus on a Christmas bell around the neck and a child's hand-cranked musical toy, lost with no understandable meaning. The protagonist himself is given a role where he's still green and wet around the ears, and hasn't quite mastered the skills required to be the revenge guy, though he manages. Unfortunately, it's his lack of screen presence and star power that lets him down. It's a bit of a shame as the film was a little 'ho-hum' for me. There was a lot there that could have and should have worked, but sadly didn't.

271384 - 2023-11-27 00:46:23


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