It’s looking a lot like Christmas according to the title, Silent Night. For all intents and purposes, it is a silent movie but not in the loving Christmasy sort of way one would expect.
This movie takes you on one hell of a ride. It comes as no surprise when the legendary director and producer of John Wick takes on an entirely different approach: a movie without dialogue and it works. The script is all about surprise, surprise, and surprise says John Woo. Making a film without dialogue is more difficult, you have to think more than usual.
When it comes to action-packed movies, dialogue is the least of your concerns. You don’t have time for it. The frantic activities by protagonist Brian (Joel Kinnaman) and his crazy expressions chasing the bad guys, don’t stop and we are immersed in it all. No time for talk!
Pressure is on the cast and their ability to portray and breathe life into each of the characters in Silent Night. The camera picks up everything, close-ups of facial expressions and the eyes. They all have a unique visual language that tells the story. The actors were excellent and held our attention.
The film has endless steadfast sounds associated with every action: music (of course Silent Night in one of the scenes) screeching reeved up cars, gunfire, gun cocking, the beeping of hospital equipment, oozing blood, closing doors, footsteps, squeaking chairs, crashing furniture, falling bodies, the oos’ and arrgh’s. Who needs dialogue? Not the Silent Night Film.
On Christmas Eve, a traditional suburban American family is preparing to spend a pleasant day together, unaware of a brewing tension between local gangs, that will change their lives forever.
A man witnesses the death of his young son when he gets caught in the crossfire being struck by a stray bullet between warring gangs.
Silent Night is a quiet tale that unfolds from the tragedy of this family. Brian Godlock, the child’s father immediately hunts down and successfully locates a handful of the culprits.
However, his confrontation with the gang leader, Playa, leaves him severely wounded and on the brink of death. Recovering from a wound that cost him his voice and his will to live, he soon embarks on a bloody and gruelling quest to punish those responsible.
This burdens his wife, Saya Godlock, who struggles to tend to her husband’s despair while also grieving the loss of her son on her terms. When she finally gives up and decides to leave their home, Brian finds the motivation he needs to keep going: vengeance.
Joel Kinnaman, who spearheads the story as Brian Godlock, explains that “Silent Night is about dealing with grief, using revenge as a way to deal with your grief and your loss. How that ultimately removes you from your humanity”. It is a survival story when your world has collapsed around you and deciding whether you want to continue or give up.
This movie’s antagonist is the villainous Playa, a gang leader involved in gun and drug smuggling, and other illegal ventures. Although the authorities are aware of Playa’s affairs, they haven’t been able to lock him up behind bars. Mexican actor Harold Torres brings this character to life and offers an interpretation that sees beyond his evil nature.
The flawed policing system is a significant factor in spurring Brian’s mission of vengeance. The Godlock family will not receive their deserved justice for the premature death of their son, which pushes the everyday family man to take matters into his own hands.
Scott Mecudi, who portrays the empathetic detective Dennis Vassel, echoes this sentiment. He knows the system does not have the capabilities to appropriately serve Godlock and his family.
Sympathising with him he understands fully why Godlock is on this death wish mission. One that will bring him to utter desperation and the verge of death as he grapples with his purpose when nothing is left.
Director: John Woo
Producers: John Woo, Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, Christian Mercuri, Lori Tilkin Defelice
Co-producer: Zach Staenberg
Writer: Robert Archer Lynn
Actors: Joel Kinnaman (Godlock) Kid Cydu (Vassell), Catalina Sandino (Saya), Harold Torres (Playa) Yoko Hamamura (Ruiz), Jeremy Marinas, Jessica Nam, Vinny O’Brien (Anthony Barello Esq.) Anthony Giulietti (Kid), John Pollack (Double Godlock)
In Cinemas December 7
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