John Woo’s (Mostly) Dialogue-Free Action Flick Is Like One Long Training Montage


The training montage is an action movie staple, something you saw a lot of in the 1980s. During these montages, heroes would be seen pumping themselves up to get ready for one final fight. They’d lift weights, they’d load up on guns, and they’d get nice and sweaty. With “Silent Night,” Woo seems to be trying to stage an almost feature-length training montage. The man we saw running at the beginning of the film is Brian, and his young son was killed in the crossfire of a gangland shootout between those two cars. During the ensuing violence, Brian was shot in the neck and lost his voice. This gives “Silent Night” its hook — it’s almost entirely dialogue-free. Not only is Brian silent, but so are those around him, including the gang members, Brian’s suffering wife Saya (Catalina Sandino Moreno), and a detective (Scott Mescudi) looking into the case. Aside from some voices heard over radios, everyone else is (mostly) speechless. When characters talk, their words are muffled, or drowned out, always indecipherable. 

After the Christmas Eve murder of his son, Brian descends into hard-drinking depression. Time passes. And then he decides to get revenge. In April, he flips his calendar to December, and on the box for DECEMBER 24 he writes in marker: “KILL THEM ALL.” Hell yeah. From here, the film takes on its lengthy training form. After all, Brian is supposed to be a normal guy, not a trained killer. He has to build himself up in order to get his vengeance. So he starts lifting weights, buying guns, and watching YouTube videos on combat and defense. He even buys a cool car and soups it up to become a weapon on wheels. 

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