In “Silent Night,” John Woo opts for a silent, action-driven narrative, eschewing verbal exchanges that might otherwise risk the audience’s disbelief. The movie commences with an intense, wordless pursuit where Joel Kinnaman’s character, identified as Brian Godlock, in a rather festive Christmas sweater, races after armed adversaries in speeding cars. Unarmed and relying solely on his ingenuity and a jingle bell around his neck, Brian demonstrates his determination in chasing down the individuals responsible for his son’s murder.
Woo, renowned for groundbreaking action cinema in the late ’80s and early ’90s, made a significant impact before his signature style was emulated, particularly by films like “The Matrix.” However, “Silent Night” now brings back Woo’s distinct flair, offering a bloody Christmas-themed action film that stands out as a rare counter-programmer, much like the enduring appeal of “Die Hard.”
The movie strategically uses action, editing, and sound design in place of extensive dialogue, embodying Alfred Hitchcock’s concept of “pure cinema.” Brian’s quest for vengeance drives the narrative, especially after he loses his voice due to a throat injury inflicted during the opening scene’s altercation.
Despite minimal dialogue, the film efficiently communicates its storyline. It skips over the police investigation, focusing on Brian’s straightforward pursuit for retribution after recognizing his assailant. The lack of spoken words necessitates a training montage, illustrating Brian’s transformation into a vengeful force, not a seasoned assassin like John Wick.
Woo’s direction infuses the movie with a serious tone but showcases his evident enjoyment behind the camera. His clever use of camera techniques, including an extended shootout in a graffiti-laden stairwell, demonstrates his engagement with trends seen in recent action films like “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde.”
While the movie occasionally relies on text messages and written notes to convey information, the essence of “Silent Night” lies in its action sequences. Even pivotal moments, like a standoff between Brian and a detective, are conducted through intense non-verbal exchanges and gunfire, underscoring the film’s commitment to storytelling through action.
Ultimately, “Silent Night” presents an exhilarating viewing experience, using action-packed scenes to drive its narrative and sustain its restless protagonist’s pursuit of justice without the need for spoken words.