Directed by John Woo
Written by Robert Archer Lynn
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Harold Torres


When his child is killed in the crossfire of a gang war, a mute and wounded man (Joel Kinnaman) swears vengeance. After a year of training and preparing, he sets forth at Christmas to enact his revenge.

An action film with a wordless central character, is an experimental take for veteran director John Woo (Hard Boiled, Face Off). It allows him to concentrate on his strength, the visual poetry of action films.

Silent Night falls into a strange hinterland. It’s neither an over the top action piece, or a raw emotional study on vengeance. Trying to be both Silent Night tilts towards the realistic and the unrealistic simultaneously. Those polar opposites cancel each other out. No matter how accomplished the direction, or how raw Kinnaman’s performance it never really takes flight.

Nor does it really interrogate its theme of vengeance, showing it as destructive, yet a righteous path. Finally due to its wordless script it’s a film heavily reliant on archetypes, as a few visual clues is all the character development most get.

Still, that visual storytelling is incredibly strong. Woo knows his craft, and once the film shifts into full action mode, it’s a frantic ride. Here he references films that have inspired him, and were probably inspired by him in return ( such as The Raid, and John Wick). It’s a slick and effective action film, however it just feels a bit hollow due to that failure to interrogate its central theme.

DAVID O’CONNELL


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