ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

KSL Movie Show review: “Silent Night” is exquisitely directed

Dec 1, 2023, 8:00 AM | Updated: Dec 8, 2023, 4:16 pm

"Silent Night" is a movie about revenge, how it is best served cold, and how words sometimes just g...

"Silent Night" is a movie about revenge, how it is best served cold, and how words sometimes just get in the way. (KSL Movie Show, Thunder Road Films, Lionsgate)

(KSL Movie Show, Thunder Road Films, Lionsgate)

SALTLAKE CITY — I’d like to think I’m a fairly intelligent guy, but when it took me twenty minutes into this movie to realize that I hadn’t heard a word of dialog, I began to question myself.

Either I’m an idiot (which is definitely possible) or I just watched such an action-packed sequence that words were unnecessary. I’d like to go with the second part, but I don’t completely discount the first.

Yes, the film begins and ends on Christmas Eves – one year apart – so the title, Silent Night, is not a stretch, but when the protagonist is shot in the throat in the opening scene, survives but is voiceless, I thought, nice little double entendre there. Let’s hope the rest of the movie holds up.

Steve says it holds up

And I believe it does, thanks to the exquisite direction of the legendary John Woo (“Paycheck” “Face/Off”) and the physically demanding performance of Joel Kinnaman, who is not known for his acting chops, but has done some good work (2014’s RoboCop and Apple TV +’s For All Mankind).

We see him, Brian, running madly through an industrial area, while two vehicles filled with guys and guns are chasing each other wildly through those same roadways.

Initially, it appears he is running away from them (which makes sense) but then we realize he’s actually running after them in a fit of rage. He has no weapon. They have many, many guns. What could he be thinking?

We soon learn that these same guys had just driven through his neighborhood, firing indiscriminately, and catching his young son in the crossfire, killing him instantly. Now we understand his blind rage in trying to chase down these gang members.

Survival, but for what?

Amazingly, he survives the shot to the throat, but in his deep depression, he begins to drink a lot and loses his equally-suffering wife (played by Catalina Sandino Moreno) who simply can’t take his blank gaze at nothing anymore.

Eventually, he realizes he has neither the skills nor the strength to take on these gangsters, who still live in the area with impunity, almost rubbing his face in it. This wake-up call flips a switch, as Brian stops drinking, gets into shape, learns many methods of self-defense and becomes familiar with a variety of weapons.

He marks off the calendar, determined to exact his revenge on the same day these monsters took his son’s life – Christmas Eve.

Admittedly, I thought the “no dialog” experiment was going to get old quickly, but in an intense action film like this, it wasn’t an issue – as the film’s poster tagline suggests, “Action speaks louder than words.” It certainly worked in this case, as “Silent Night” could possibly become a companion piece to, dare I say, “Die Hard” as a counter-programming Christmas movie?

Bold statement, I know.

SILENT NIGHT (B) Rated R for strong bloody violence, drug and some language (there is some muffled swearing.) Starring Joel Kinnaman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kid Audi and Harold Torres. Directed by John Woo (“Red Cliff” “Hard Boiled”) – filmed in Mexico. 104 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Show review: “Silent Night” is exquisitely directed