A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite the theme of vengeance and all of the action and stunts and shootouts, the movie seems to be saying that gun violence is a tragic occurrence and revenge is circular, never-ending, and pointless. Once you go down that road, nothing can ever go back to normal.
Positive Role Models
The main character suffers a tragedy and acts out of revenge, even though he knows it will destroy everything he has left, including his relationship with his wife.
Of roughly six major characters, the main is a White male. His wife is played by Colombian actor Catalina Sandino Moreno. A helpful police detective is played by Black performer Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi. Lead villain Playa is played by Mexican actor Harold Torres; despite his criminal actions, Playa is shown to be in a loving relationship with Venus (Valeria Santaella, of Mexican heritage). She, however, is portrayed as a drug addict, and Playa enables her habit by helping her inject. The villain's second-in-command, Ruiz, is played by Japanese American mixed martial artist Yoko Hamamura. Director John Woo was born in China and is a Hong Kong citizen.
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Violence & Scariness
Lots of guns, shooting, blood, death. A child is shot and killed by a stray bullet (not directly shown); other characters are shot in the head and throat, a police officer is killed. Bleeding wounds, blood spurts, dead bodies; someone is beheaded. The main character practices shooting and buys a bag full of guns. Stabbing and slicing; severed fingers. Gory hospital scene. Fighting, punching, hitting with blunt objects, shoving, choking. Bodies are thrown through glass, down staircases, over balconies. A motorcycle rider crashes into a pole. Villains beat two people up, stealing their cash. A character is tied up and held hostage. Vehicle chases and crashes; explosions. Characters on fire. Characters pinned up against wall with car. Main character rages, throwing and wrecking stuff. Character promises to "kill them all." A person pours green-colored drink all over main character. Vomiting.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Passionate kissing, with a character scooping his girlfriend up in his arms. Two characters dance, gazing into one another's eyes. Married couple cuddles. Shirtless man.
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"F--k" and "motherf----r" are written/texted, spoken on radios, or said while the speaker is muffled by a gag.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
For some time, the main character gulps vodka to medicate his pain; several empty bottles shown on a table. A character is shown with a rubber tube tied around her upper arm; someone injects something into her veins, just below frame. Track marks on a character's arm. Villain snorts lines of cocaine. In one scene, it appears as if a dealer is selling drugs to kids and teens, but it turns out he's handing out cash. Background drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Silent Night is an action movie -- set during the Christmas holiday and with little to no spoken dialogue -- about a father (Joel Kinnaman) who's avenging his son's accidental death. Directed by the legendary John Woo, the movie is stylish and action-packed but also acknowledges the tragedy of gun violence and the futility of revenge. Violence is extremely strong and includes guns, shooting, blood, gore, blood spurts, deaths, severed heads/fingers, stabbing, slicing, brutal hand-to-hand fights, beating with blunt objects, car crashes, explosions, and much more. Villains are implied to be drug dealers, and characters snort cocaine, inject heroin into a track-marked arm, etc. The grieving main character spends a period of time drinking excessively to dull his pain. There are a few uses of "f--k" and a use of "motherf----r," either written or spoken over radios. One character kisses and passionately scoops up another in his arms, there's some marital cuddling, and a man is shown shirtless. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A simple tale of vengeance, this action movie with little to no spoken dialogue benefits from superior filmmaking, as well as a serious undercurrent about the destructive, circular nature of violence. Silent Night is master Hong Kong filmmaker John Woo's first movie to be released in U.S. theaters since 2009's Red Cliff (the last film he made for a Hollywood studio was 2003's Paycheck). Happily, his immense skill as an action director hasn't diminished. Not only does Woo have a firm knowledge of space, rhythm, and motion, but he also knows how to instill his sequences with a strong, almost operatic, emotional core. When his characters fight, they fight with everything they have, for something that means the world.
But while Silent Night is thrilling -- and it is a tour-de-force, with its emphasis on visual storytelling and Kinnaman's intensely physical performance (perhaps even surpassing Michael Fassbender in The Killer) -- it also understands that this mission is futile. Brian's path of vengeance, of vigilantism, will bring no peace, no rest, and no return to normal. There's a great moment in which Brian holds Saya in his arms. They're on the couch, and the camera hovers above and behind them, taking in the whole, empty room. It's their last embrace before they part ways, Saya looking to move on and Brian choosing violence, because he can't stand the thought of choosing nothing. Silent Night may not be a joyous holiday celebration, but it certainly packs a punch.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.