Silent Night review: John Woo is not convincing

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Silent Night – The silence of revenge is the latest film by director John Woo and will be released in theaters on November 30th: here is our review

ORIGINAL TITLE: Silent Night – The silence of revenge. TYPE: Thriller, Action. NATION: United States of America. REGIA: John Woo. CAST: Joel Kinnaman, Kid Cudi, Harold Torres, Catherine Sandino Moreno. DURATION: 104 minutes. DISTRIBUTOR: Capstone Studios, Thunder Road Pictures. CINEMA EXIT: 30/11/2023.

Silent Night – The silence of revenge is the new film by director John Woo, known to the public for Ballerina, Mission Impossible 2 and Paycheck, who returns to the big screen here with a thriller and action film with a Christmas flavour. In fact, the title takes us back to Christmas, because it takes up the well-known holiday song and plays on the contrast between Christmas joy and the drama that is perpetuated at the beginning of the film. Getting to the heart of the plot, the protagonist is Brian, a family man who on Christmas Eve loses his son in his backyard to a flying bullet that arrived from two gangs that were clashing in the neighborhood.

Brian chases the criminals driven by anger and desperation, challenges them and gets a bullet in the throat. The protagonist here begins to lose everything, after losing his son, he loses his voice, he loses himself and his wife is forced to move away from him, after he tries in every way to be close to him and overcome the loss of his son. At this point, as a quiet worker, he trains for a year in his garage with the aim, on Christmas Eve of the following year, to kill all those involved in his son’s death and thus obtain his revenge.

The silence between the shots | Silent Night review

The main feature of this action thriller, and also what tries to save it from its many defects, is silence: the title does not only refer to the Christmas song, but to the fact that the protagonist, finding himself speechless, does not speak for the entire film and as a result, there is no dialogue throughout the entire film. There’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of violence, there’s a lot of noise, but dialogue is absent. And precisely the absence of dialogue accentuates everything else: the violence, the killings, are a continuation throughout the second half of the film as a representation of the drama that the protagonist is experiencing. And it is also on the protagonist that we want to focus, because he has the whole scene to himself, but it is difficult to empathize with him.

His drama turns into a bubble of selfishness, which makes him forget about everything around him, first of all his wife who, like him, is experiencing the same drama of having lost her son in his arms, but at the same time tries to go to work every day and take care of her husband. This contrast may be fictional but it jars from the beginning of the film: Brian “plays” revenge in his garage, she barely carries on with her life with her pain. A pain that is no less than that of her husband only because she did not decide to transform herself into an improvised avenger.

Silent Night review: John Woo is not convincing

The absence of plot | Silent Night review

To this major flaw in the screenplay that develops around the film, an almost non-existent plot is built: the action, the adrenaline are no longer enough to create the excitement when leaving the cinema. Cinema has accustomed us to breathtaking, rich and surprising action constructions, John Woo himself was capable of it, even just with Mission Impossible 2 and those that are in this film are not enough: there is a set of devices and situations already seen in films, already experienced and not very adrenaline-filled. For this reason, a more substantial plot would be needed, with deeper dynamics than those of simple revenge. What appears here is just gratuitous violence, without explanations and without any surprise effect.

An unconvincing villain | Silent Night review

We know well that the protagonist’s journey of revenge always has a final enemy, the one who caused everything and who waits in the last scenes for the final battle. And the director’s choice in this case is interesting and appreciated: the protagonist’s approach towards the main villain, that is, the leader of the most feared gang in the city, takes place in an abandoned building, tackling floor by floor. With each floor the difficulty level of the enemies you encounter increases, with each floor their level of power also increases, until you reach the last floor with the boss, for the final level, just like an old video game.

An interesting gimmick, which totally collapses when you get to the top floor. Because the villain doesn’t actually exist and what the protagonist is faced with is what the audience notices from the beginning of the film, that is, a drug addict, totally unaltered by drug use and consequently totally unaware of what he has done and what is happening. Another aspect that does not justify all the violence that the spectator has to endure from the beginning of the film.

Silent Night review: John Woo is not convincing

An attempt that didn’t work

Overall we can say that this film starts from a good idea, that is, the contrast between the most total silence and the background noise of drama and violence with a common protagonist, which definitely makes everything more interesting. However, it develops within a screenplay that seems only sketchy and based on a concept of violence as an end in itself. Perhaps it will also be the time in which we live permeated by wars everywhere and unjustified violenceperhaps it will also be that the public expects more in-depth themes, they expect explanations and more rounded characters, but this film is not convincing and also seems to be outside of a cinema that is changing.

A film out of time that is not surprising

Points in favor

  • A common protagonist
  • The contrast between silence and the noise of action
  • The absence of dialogues

Points against

  • Bare script
  • Gratuitous and unjustified violence
  • Uninteresting protagonist
  • Unsurprising developments in screenplay and direction

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