John Woo has built a reputation as the king of cheesy action films.
He boasts a filmography of classic films like Face/Off starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, Mission Impossible II, Hard Boiled and The Killer. So when it was announced that he would be returning to Hollywood for the first time in a decade, I was quite eager.
Unfortunately, it was a letdown and I was rudely shocked by one of the most offensively boring films of the year.
Silent Night follows Brian Godlock, a man whose son died in a gang shooting on Christmas Eve. Brian, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the vocal cords, is then thrust on a mission to avenge his dead son and kill those who wronged him.
Reading this synopsis, I should have been able to tell it wouldn’t live up to the iconic highs of other Christmas action movies like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon or even Home Alone. However, there was no way of predicting just how bland this film really is.
There is barely any dialogue in this film, understandable as the main man was shot in the vocal cords, but no one else speaks very much either, making it live up to its moniker.
In a film with not much direction, not having any of the characters explain why they’re doing anything really hinders the audience’s understanding of their motivation and, as a result, there is little care for anything that happens.
Lead actor Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad) also isn’t at his best. Aside from the scene where his son dies, his performance does nothing to invest the audience in his cause. This could very much be due to the lack of spoken words as an actor is only as good as the script they’re reciting.
The villainous gangs responsible for Brian’s pain are also very cookie-cutter and are as basic as villains can be.
I was sitting behind a couple in the theatre during my showing and about halfway through the lady in front asked her partner: “Why are the bad guys after him again?” to which her partner replied “I dunno”.
This interaction perfectly sums up how it is to watch these characters interact onscreen. It’s an interesting concept to not have characters talk, but it doesn’t work on the big screen.
Apart from that, the action is typical of John Woo and that’s a good thing. There are your classic Woo slo-mo shots and gun combat that is so over the top it’s fun and bad guys with seemingly never-ending ammo. These tropes synonymous with Woo’s previous works do give the film a bit of character, not much but some.
Even though some of the action is fun, it’s nowhere near the heights of other action films released this year like John Wick 4 or The Equalizer. Subtle things like CGI blood spatter (a pet hate of mine) make the film look cheap. The protagonist seemingly dodging every shot despite having no military or combat training makes the story feel lazy, and despite being only 104 minutes long I was still checking the time hoping the credits would roll.
Ultimately, Silent Night isn’t the welcome back to Hollywood that John Woo or action movie fans were looking for. Its lack of dialogue makes it hard to care for anyone and, despite some fun action shootouts, it is dwarfed by more innovative and entertaining films released earlier this year.
If you’re looking for an action movie to watch this Christmas, just rewatch Die Hard. It’s the best Christmas movie for a reason.
Original Article published by Jarryd Rowley on Riotact.