Release Date: 08th December, 2023
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kid Cudi, Harold Torres, Kid Cudi
Writer: Robert Archer Lynn
Director: John Woo
Producer/s: Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, John Woo
Silent Night Movie Review Rating:
Star Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Kid Cudi, Harold Torres, and Catalina Sandino Moreno
Director: John Woo
What’s Good: It is fantastic to see John Woo back doing films in the West. His experience in making action scenes still shows under all the gimmicks.
What’s Bad: The movie relies too much on a strange narrative gimmick that only hinders its enjoyment and makes the entire experience quite strange and boring.
Loo Break: Sadly, there are several. The movie’s gimmick makes certain scenes feel completely unnecessary.
Watch or Not?: There are better John Woo films out there to watch. Sadly, Silent Night doesn’t make the cut as an easy recommendation.
Available On: Cinemas
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Silent Night is a film directed by John Woo and written by Robert Archer Lynn. The film tells the story of a father who loses his son and then makes his only life goal to take revenge on those who cut his son’s life short. The film represents John Woo’s return to Hollywood after parting ways with the Western film industry in 2003 with his film Paycheck.
Silent Night Movie Review: Script Analysis
John Woo’s career is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting journeys ever taken by a filmmaker in any region. The Hong Kong filmmaker began his career way back in the 1960s, making martial arts and adventure films for that region’s industry. He later perfected his directorial techniques and ended up directing some of the most iconic action films of the 1980s and 1990s. Films like “A Better Tomorrow,” “The Killer,” and “Hard Boiled” are still remembered as legendary films in the action genre. The influences of those films can be traced back to film industries all over the world.
In the mid-1990s, John Woo used his legendary reputation as an action filmmaker to make the jump to Hollywood. There, he managed to make a number of films that, while not the best of their kind, were still successful enough to make him a household name in Hollywood as well. Woo’s collaborations with John Travolta were especially memorable, with Face/Off becoming a classic. However, Woo’s stay in Hollywood met its end when movies like Mission Impossible 2, Windtalkers, and, of course, Paycheck failed to meet expectations, both financially and from a critical point of view.
And so comes Silent Night, a movie that sees the director back working in Hollywood. However, I point out all of this history to make the point that this is a director who hasn’t really made a movie in this style for several decades. Woo’s recent output consists of some great epic historical movies like “Red Cliff” or “The Crossing.” While those movies use action and use it very well, they are far from action movies centered on one individual. This makes Silent Night a sort of return to basics for the director, but sadly, it seems Woo’s grasp on the style that made him famous has been diluted somehow.
Nevertheless, it is important to say that Woo’s direction in this film is not the weakest link. The script is in fact the weakest element of the film, and Woo’s should have realized this from the moment they started shooting. It is very strange that such an experienced director would just shoot a script like this in this way. The movie tries to run on a “no dialogue” gimmick, which could have been the opportunity for some fantastic visual storytelling, but in fact, it makes the movie feel incomplete in several ways.
Silent Night Movie Review: Star Performance
Silent Night’s script pushes the “no dialogue” gimmick to the extreme, and both visuals and performances need to step up in order to tell the story in a clear and cohesive way. This is a hard challenge, and the movie sadly fails at it. Some years ago, Square Enix published a strange action game titled The Quiet Man. In that game, the protagonist was deaf, making all the dialogue in the game imperceptible. Silent Night feels like that in many ways. The script and the direction don’t make up for the lack of dialogue, and because of it, the performances and the entire movie end up hurting.
Joel Kinnaman has been grinding his gears in Hollywood for a while, but sadly, he hasn’t managed to get the role that would use him properly. Kinnaman is a great actor, as he already proved in AMC’s The Killing, but his movie roles have been quite lackluster. Even his appearance in the Suicide Squad franchise was truncated after delivering a great performance in the last film by James Gunn. Here, Kinnaman tries his very best, but his performance, along with that of the rest of the cast, ends up feeling ridiculous. The movie never properly justifies the “no dialogue” gimmick, and the actors can only do so much.
Silent Night Movie Review: Direction, Music
As we said before, this is Woo’s return to this more classic action filmmaking style. He is rusty; there is no other way around it, but he still has it, at least partially. Woo’s direction is direct and powerful during several of the action sequences that the movie delivers throughout its runtime. Are they the best action sequences of the decade? Not at all. At this point, Woo’s action style feels dated—not bad in any way, but also not as amazing or groundbreaking as it was during the 1980s. Because of this, the action in Silent Night feels solid, but the movie cannot stand out by this element alone.
Meanwhile, the score, by the also legendary Marco Beltrami, has to do a lot of heavy lifting throughout the film. There are many occasions when the music is the only thing pushing the scenes forward. Towards the end, both Woo’s direction and Beltrami’s score make the perfect fusion, and it is there that you can see what the movie could have been. Sadly, these moments fade away fast, and we are left with a movie that doesn’t really have the soul that action movies need to work.
Silent Night Movie Review: The Last Word
It is great to see John Woo returning to make this type of film. However, the film tries to push its “no dialogue” gimmick as a selling point, but in reality, it only hurts the film by making it an awkward experience for both the actors on the screen and the audience watching it. There are better action movies out there and many more John Woo films that many people in the West probably haven’t seen and are worth watching. Go watch those instead.
Silent Night Trailer
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For more recommendations, read Wish Movie Review here.