John Woo recently returned to the limelight after his comments about Marvel Studios’ popcorn flicks. He said he would rather watch a Martin Scorsese film over a Marvel movie any day. Besides those remarks, the recent ‘sad brown bear speech’ meme made more people aware of Woo’s 1986 action thriller – A Better Tomorrow. Now, Woo’s latest film – ‘Silent Night’ follows a man seeking revenge after an unfortunate accident in his life. Since it has little to no conversations between its characters, it can be considered a zero-dialogue film. 

Starring Joel Kinnaman in the lead as Goodlock, ‘Silent Night’ brings back the action sequences Woo is known for. Besides Kinnaman, the cast includes Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi), Harold Torres, and Yoko Hamamura.

Spoilers ahead.

Silent Night (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is John Woo’s ‘Silent Night’ about?

John Woo’s ‘Silent Night’ is a blood-soaked revenge tale starring Joel Kinnaman in the lead. The script, written by Robert Archer Lynn, follows Brian Goodlock (played by Kinnaman) on the path to avenge his son’s death. The film begins with Brian running away in a grandpa-style sweater. It is unclear whether he is running away from something or someone. But we definitely see his blood-soaked hands. Eventually, we see him reach a railway track. While hearing police sirens in the background, he sees gangsters shooting each other through their cars. Brian reaches the site to damage the car. As a result, he gets injured, almost to death.

After Brian gets taken to the hospital, we see his grief-struck wife, Saya (played by Catalina Sandino Moreno). Detective Dennis Vassell (played by Scott Mescudi / Kid Cudi) also comes to check on Brian. Before leaving, he leaves his ID card in the room. Brian soon regains consciousness but has trouble walking and speaking. With Saya’s help, he gets back on a steady path of recovery. After a while, he gets discharged from the hospital. On their car ride back home, he listens to the radio where two people speak about inflation and how it helps only a few at the higher echelons of the financial pyramid. At the same time, Brian notices the signs of lawlessness around him. From gangsters selling drugs to innocent children to the wall graffiti saying ‘F*** the Police,’ everything angers him. 

How did Brian Goodluck’s son die?

Brian returns home to experience the loss of his young son all over again. He remembers the good times they spent in the home together as opposed to now when he has to contend with the child’s loss. Due to a sudden rush of emotions, he starts crying. Saya tries to console him. He picks up a newspaper clipping that mentions the loss of a kid in the middle of a gunfight between two opposing parties of gangsters. But the image is cut out because he or Saya cannot bear to relive those painful memories. That’s when we realize how Brian’s son died. 

While the son was playing in their backyard, he was killed by gangsters. Before his accident, Brian was trying to find the gangsters that led to his son’s death. Now, he again tries to process his emotions and finally accepts the fact that his son won’t return to life. But how will he find catharsis? How can he make sure that the culprits get what they deserve? He takes his first constructive step in that direction. How? By meeting Detective Dennis to know the details of the suspects in the case. That’s where he learns about Playa (played by Harold Torres). So, before even speaking with Dennis, he decides to leave the station. 

How does Brian Goodluck prepare himself for revenge? 

Brian gets an old car and builds it piece by piece to suit his needs. While exercising regularly, he also starts to learn how to shoot a gun. His initial attempts do not go as well as he hoped they would. Still, he does not lose hope in himself and keeps improving his form. However, that makes him distant from Saya, who decides to move out of their house. While surveilling the gangsters, Brian sees Anthony Barcelo Esq. (played by Vinny O’Brien) walking out of a meeting. He notes down Anthony’s car number for future reference. 

Later, in a parking lot, Brian comes across Playa and his mates. While he keeps looking at them, Playa’s girlfriend – Venus (played by Valeria Santaella) mocks him in broad daylight. Brian does not respond immediately. Instead, he masters his car-riding and shooting skills and kidnaps Anthony in his basement. After Anthony makes a run for his life, Brian manages to beat him black and blue. Then, he leaves Anthony’s body on Detective Dennis’ doorstep with an envelope. In a note, Brian states that he did the job that Detective Dennis or the police were supposed to. He also sends a pen drive with details of his research into the gang members and their locations. 

A still from Silent Night (2023).
A still from Silent Night (2023).

Silent Night (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

What happens to Brian in the end?

Brian gets involved in multiple back-and-forth encounters with the gangsters. It eventually makes Detective Dennis follow Brian’s road map to reach a location. On the other hand, Brian slowly makes his way up to the kingpin of the operation. He battles his way to find Playa’s wingman and gets in a brutal fight with him. Finally, after defeating the gangster, Brian meets Detective Dennis. Suddenly, Venus wreaks havoc on their duo. She also ends up shooting Dennis.   

Brian manages to find his way through the maze to reach Venus. He hesitates to shoot her. She takes benefit of his moment of emotional weakness and shoots him. Then, he fires back and kills her. Then, finally, he enters the lion’s den and comes face to face with Playa. Dennis also arrives in support of the grief-struck Brian. Eventually, Brian strangles Playa to death. He and Dennis consider it as their victory. In his final moments, Brian envisions a life his son could have led if he had not gotten killed. Saya pays her respects to her late husband and reads out an emotional letter. 

Silent Night (2023) Movie Review

‘Silent Night’ seems like director John Woo’s attempt at following the gimmick of a no-dialogue film. At times, its ‘heartbroken dad seeking revenge’ narrative reminds you of Keanu Reeves starrer John Wick series. Silent Night also features well-lit sequences that build a world within itself. A majority of its narrative plays out at night, which adds to its stylistic grittiness. But that is enough to overcome the film’s shortfalls in terms of script. The writing is riddled with cliches of revenge narratives. 

Even though the John Wick series did not have enough substance, it had Chad Stahelski’s impeccable and irresistible stunt design. Silent Night feels occasionally gripping because of Woo’s creative decisions with his cinematographer. The camera moves or zooms in peculiar ways. There is also an interesting long-take sequence that follows the protagonist through stairs. But that is paired with largely forgettable storytelling with little to no emotional nuance. 

Despite the pain Brian feels, the film fails to make us resonate with him. It has multiple reasons. Of course, the cliches dull down the impact. But, its attempts at being relevant by commenting on the social structure fall flat for the most part. At times, they can also result in unintentional laughter.

Read More: Where to Watch & Stream action thriller film ‘Silent Night’ by John Woo?

Silent Night (2023) Movie Trailer

Silent Night (2023) Movie Links: IMDb Wikipedia
The Cast of Silent Night (2023) Movie: Joel Kinnaman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi), Harold Torres
Silent Night (2023) Movie Genre: Action, Thriller | Runtime: 1h 44 Minutes
Where to watch Silent Night

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