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Film: Silent Night 
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Kid Cudi, Harold Torres, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Vinny O`Brien, Yoko Hamamura, Anthony Giulietti, John Pollack
Director Of Photography: Sharone Meir
Director: John Woo
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 104 min

John Woo, a living legend for his acclaimed action films, The Killer and Hard Boiled, directs this revenge-themed thriller. It’s his first American film in 20 years. The title obviously alludes to the season of joy and a gimmicky conceit that fractures its enjoyment. 
 
It’s not a happy time for one particular family. It’s Christmas eve and a doting father, Godlock (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses his young son die, caught in a gang`s crossfire. We see Brian Godluck, an electrical repairman, running down an alley chasing after gang members. He follows the culprits and ends up getting shot in the throat. Before he is shot in the throat, he sees the face of his assailant (Harold Torres) – a face that remains imprinted on his mind. After recovery and loss of voice, he makes vengeance his life`s goal while embarking on a punishing training regimen to bulk up and avenge his son`s death. He obviously has to  kill his way up a chain of command to exact his revenge. That’s the degree of difficulty here.
 
The mood is gloomy and depressing and the gore presented with artistic flourish, fails to make a mark. The film is way too serious for a John Woo film. Maybe its his attempt to put forward an anti-violence message but it doesn’t work. Each subsequent killing fails to raise the bar on style or substance. The conceit of having an actioner without dialogues also makes the going difficult. Godlock may have lost his ability to speak but his wife Saya (Catalina Sandino Moreno), or Vassell (Kid Cudi), the cop on his trail and the targeted gang men, haven’t lost theirs. Yet they do not speak other than to make some generic noises.  
The screaming and mumbling don’t alleviate the narrative in any way. Since we do not know what exactly is going on in each of the characters minds, it feels alienating.  The well-choreographed fights, car chases, and shootings don’t amount to much in such a scenario. 
 
Woo’s signature fight scenes display some kinetic energy but the final confrontation feels anticlimactic. The film’s highlight is a lengthy hand-to-hand combat between Brian and one of Playa’s minions. The past comes across as a dream and the present a nightmare. 
Flashbacks depicting Brian’s former joyful life to his anguished post-tragedy existence through fluid transitions, are quite eloquent. Screenwriter Robert Lynn helps keep the plot moving with some interesting intersections with violence. In this old-school action/horror characters go through the ringer – get disemboweled, set on fire, and shoved feet-first into a wood chipper.
 
There’s not much of a backstory to be had. Brian mourns the death of his son and his marriage flounders. The angry father then goes on a rampage. It has all become routine stuff since there’s only so much you can do with this sort of a story.

 

 

 

 



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