Silent Night Review

Featuring: Joel Kinnaman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Harold Torres, Kid Cud

Genre: Action, Thriller

Director: John Woo

Showing on Sky Cinema, and Streaming on Now TV: 23rd December 2023


A tormented father makes vengeance his life’s mission after his son is caught in a gang’s crossfire and dies on Christmas Eve.

Brian (Kinnaman) and Saya (Moreno) live with their only child in a neighbourhood that is stricken by a highly violent crime environment controlled by gangs. During a shoot-out and car chase, a stray bullet hits Brian’s son as he plays in his front garden, killing him instantly. Brian, one year on from the tragedy and still suffering from grief, decides to get revenge and take matters into his own hands when the policing authority reluctantly ignores the ongoing crime problem within the community. You would be forgiven to compare this to John Wick because the same producer from the franchise brings all the same attributes but attempts to be clever in doing so. Early in the film, our main character, Brian, gets shot in the throat, becoming mute and enabling him not to use his voice, hence the movie’s title. There is no dialogue for the entirety of the film, excluding the odd whispered word here and there. In having no script, there is a reliance on other modes of communication to keep the plot and narrative moving. The creativity in doing this always seems to be clever and works seamlessly for the most part. Facial expressions tell us what we need to know. Text messages are shown on the screen, replacing the spoken words, or we hear news reports and bulletins playing on the TV in the background or on the car radio.



There is a risk in doing so, but ultimately, we are more invested in the actions and behaviours of the cast, and after some are accustomed to the usual approach, it goes unnoticed. The thought process in developing something different is admirable; there are scenes where creativity bursts at the seams. The editing is fast and slick and blends to perfection when other elements don’t meet expectations. That Christmas feeling and overall theme are very incidental; it is just a coincidence that the shooting happened around the festive period. Instead, this film is primarily gritty and exceedingly dark but often a well-executed revenge drama. Brian (Kinnaman) has no experience with violence or even using a gun, so we go on the journey with him as he learns different forms of self-defence. We often see him practising driving around the car park, trying not to knock over traffic cones. Fumbling his knife or gun when using mannequins as pretend criminals. This develops him as a person and gives him confidence in himself and his intentions, which is refreshing to witness that level of precise detail when constructing importance in his focus. We are beginning and learning something together as an audience from the start.


That sense of realism is heavily engraved into the concept of a movie focussing on a revenge plot. John Woo promotes cinematic visuals and takes inspiration from silent films in his latest offering. There is an attempt at crafting something unique by having a main character suffering from loss and unable to use his words verbally. However, the actual weight and core of the film trends in familiarity and something that has been done before, even if different creative, innovative approaches are considered. Although the action can be riveting and exciting in parts, the film tends to reminisce about older action films that are more challenging to ignore. When the no-dialogue approach starts to feel more like a gimmick, it becomes noticeable as characters are brought in to avoid that awkward silence or to add more interest to the storyline, limiting many interactions between characters.

Overall: 5.5/10

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