Silent Night – REVIEW

Silent Night – REVIEW
Image: SILENT NIGHT. Image: film still

Hong Kong based legendary action director John Woo returns to directing an American movie after a 20 year absence, and his latest offering is strangely a dialogue-free Christmas revenge movie ironically entitled Silent Night.

Be warned though this is not your conventional family-friendly Christmas movie, as there is nothing holy about this action-packed thriller which should keep audiences at the edge of their seats throughout.

The synopsis is simplistic. When a stray bullet from gang warfare kills an innocent young child on Christmas Eve his father plans to avenge his death. There are several gang members responsible and he marks on his calendar for the following year: “Christmas Eve – Kill Them All!” He vows an eye for an eye!

He gives himself 12 months to strengthen up, to improve his driving skills and handling of firearms as he’s aware these criminals are experienced in these areas and will deliver a good fight. Revenge can be sweet, so let the violence commence!

SILENT NIGHT. Image: film still

Octane-charged car chases, gunfights and graphic blood-soaked murderous sequences which leave nothing to the imagination keep the adrenalin pumping, hauntingly to a soundtrack of Christmas carols.

The ideology of a dialogue-free action thriller was initially questionable. Today’s moviegoers are not accustomed to ‘silent movies’ and revisiting the pre-talkies style of filmmaking seemed nonsensical.

However it proved a successful venture implementing an element which many movies seem to lack nowadays – originality. The story was easy to follow without the dialogue, also heightening interest in the film. The musical score played a significant role in telling the story instead of dialogue which enhanced the atmosphere on all emotional levels.

The actors however had to work twice as hard. No dialogue meant they had to display their anger, pain and suffering through facial expressions, especially in the heart wrenching scenes where even words in a conventional movie couldn’t describe the emotions of the needless loss of a child to violence. The storytelling was vastly dependent on the visuals.

Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman portrayed the father and Catalina Sandino Moreno his wife, both of whom were well cast. There are many heart wrenching scenes in the movie as the child’s death is slowly revealed through flashbacks and when the parents cry so will the most sensitive of moviegoers.

Raw, dark, and gritty, some moviegoers may question, after leaving the cinema, that with all the doom and gloom in the world, is it morally justifiable to release a movie at Christmas which surrounds murderous vengeful killings on Christmas Eve? Isn’t Christmas a holy festive season for joy, good will and peace to all mankind?

★★★1/2

In Cinemas December 7

 

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