HOLLYWOOD—I thought the movie “Silent Night” had a genius premise when I first heard about it. A guy who is violently injured and loses his ability to speak as a result, tell me I’m dreaming right? Not only that, but the film was being directed by the iconic John Woo. John Woo people the guy behind “Face-Off” and one of my favorite flicks of all-time, “The Killer” that I learned about as a film student.
Woo is a genius behind the camera and utilizes it in a way that I haven’t seen many other directors do, especially when it comes to action. The problem is “Silent Night” falls flat with the development of its characters. Yes, the movie revolves around Brian Godlock (Joel Kinnaman), who loses his young son as a result of a shootout involving rival gang members.
The opening sequence of “Silent Night” is riveting. The camera shots, the slow-moving action, the close-ups, just epic, as the audience gets a first-hand look at Godlock trying to get revenge on those who killed his son. As a result, he gets a bullet in the back and a bullet through the throat, courtesy of the gang leader Playa (Harold Torres). Yeah, the development of the villain is nothing impressive and that is why “Silent Night” fails to deliver that punch that lingers with you after the movie ends.
Brian survives, but to be honest, if you get shot in the throat it might be endgame because a major artery is there and the concern about bleeding to death comes front-and-center. Brian goes through months of healing and discovers he no longer can speak; he has no voice and I think the script should have played with that idea a lot more and it doesn’t.
Brian’s wife, portrayed by Oscar-nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno is not even utilized in the movie. She appears, but I didn’t even think she uttered much dialogue and it was talent that was underutilized. The same sentiment for Scott Mescudi who portrays Detective Dennis Vassel; I have no clue why the character was in the movie. This cop did absolutely nothing, and once again this was a flick heavily reliant on the use of limited dialogue, where the only character who showcased range that you believe was Kinnaman.
If you’re doing a flick with no dialogue, the facial expressions and movements are going to be critical to showing range and emotion for the audience. The first act I thought was fantastic, the second act was solid, but I started to lose slight interest, and by the third act I didn’t care. I did want to see our primary character get his revenge, because that is what the flick was all about. Getting the ultimate revenge, the only issue is I wanted more. I mean this is John Woo, and the action and blood is massive, even I tensed up watching the bullets, and mayhem unleashed throughout the movie.
“Silent Night” is not a bad movie, it just had so much potential and it is not fulfilled. The weak script really hurts the movie and considering Woo is behind the camera, if the script was stronger, this could have become an iconic action-flick, but instead it is just another one full of bullets and bloodshed and not much else.