Movie Review: “Silent Night” – John Woo’s Satisfying Return to Hollywood with a Dialogue-Light Action Thriller, Starring Joel Kinnaman as a Vengeful Father
Published on November 28, 2023, by usclearnews.com
In his Hollywood comeback after two decades, Hong Kong director John Woo Yu-sum presents “Silent Night,” an action-packed thriller featuring Joel Kinnaman as a father seeking revenge for his son’s tragic death at the hands of a criminal gang.
Kinnaman, known for his role as Rick Flag in the Suicide Squad films, portrays Brian Godlock, a grieving father who takes a year to recover from his own injuries and meticulously plan his retaliation against those responsible for his son’s murder. The film unfolds with minimal dialogue, relying on texts, song lyrics, and occasional TV and radio snippets to convey its narrative.
While “Silent Night” delivers some impressive action sequences, it falls short of Woo’s classic works like “The Killer” (1989) and “Hard Boiled” (1992). The absence of many of Woo’s trademark stylistic elements is notable, and the film struggles to match the pace of contemporary action franchises like John Wick and The Raid series, earning it a modest rating of 3/5 stars.
Kinnaman’s character, Godlock, undergoes a challenging journey of self-training and determination to avenge his son’s death. Encounters with obstacles, including relentless gang leader Playa (Harold Torres) and interfering detective Vassell (Scott Mescudi), add complexity to the plot.
Despite its slower pace compared to current action standards, “Silent Night” showcases Woo’s continued mastery of camera movement, building suspense in seemingly ordinary situations that erupt into chaos. The screenplay by Robert Archer Lynn maintains simplicity, ensuring the story remains easily followable.
The film’s unique selling point is its nearly dialogue-free approach, with communication primarily through texts and song lyrics. However, in a cinematic landscape dominated by high-energy franchises, “Silent Night” may feel somewhat outdated and less impactful.
Woo’s direction still shines through in well-executed stunt sequences that elicit gasps from the audience. Notably, a two-person fight in a garage stands out, credited to the work of supervising stunt coordinator James M. Churchman and stunt coordinator Bernardo Bucio.
“Silent Night” may not reach the heights of Woo’s past masterpieces, but it offers a satisfying dose of action for fans, showcasing the director’s ability to craft suspenseful moments even with a limited use of dialogue.