‘Violent Night’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Violent Night is a Christmas action-comedy film directed by Tommy Wirkola (What Happened to Monday) from a screenplay written by Pat Casey (Sonic the Hedgehog) and Josh Miller (Sonic the Hedgehog 2). Featuring David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Leah Brady, Edi Patterson, and Beverly D’Angelo. The story follows Santa Claus as he saves a wealthy family from an armed robbery on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus (David Harbour) drinks at a bar in England where he speaks to another “Santa Claus” about how the kids don’t believe in Christmas the same as they used to and have become increasingly materialistic. The mall Santa feels bad for him and puts all his drinks on his tab. Before leaving Santa gives the bartender a gift for her grandson. Noticing he exited to the roof and not the front door, the bartender goes to make sure he’s okay. Unable to find Santa on the roof the bartender looks up and sees him on his sleigh being pulled by his reindeer. The sight amazes and delights the bartender before Santa in his drunken state accidentally pukes on her from his sleigh.

Christmastime is a wonderful season celebrated by many people across the world. Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or just enjoy giving and receiving presents there’s something everyone can enjoy – unless you’re the Grinch. The holiday is so popular that many people start celebrating as soon as Halloween is over. (Which is terrible because Thanksgiving is very important too.) One of the most celebrated aspects of the season is watching Christmas movies. From It’s a Wonderful Life, to Elf, to Die Hard, it’s a tried-and-true tradition to spend the holidays watching movies with family and friends. Personally, I try to watch Jingle All the Way every Christmas Eve.

Violent Night brings together all the joy of a Christmas movie with the blood and violence of an action flick. Director Tommy Wirkola does a great job at combining the best elements from Home Alone, Die Hard, and the non-Christmas movie, John Wick, to make something truly special. While very violent Wirkola doesn’t shy away from comedy. The joys and pains of obligatory holiday family time are on full display and to boot all of the mercenaries have funny Christmas-themed codenames. The movie essentially has the same plot as Die Hard as both stories take place on Christmas Eve, both involve the main character trying to reconcile with his estranged wife, and both feature a reluctant hero who engages the villain in conversation via a walkie-talkie. Trudy Lightstone (Leah Brady) is an allusion to Kevin McAllister as she is the one who sets traps for the villains in the house, albeit with deadlier consequences. She even mentions the movie to Santa while concocting her plans. Lastly, the combat and gory kills are similar to John Wick with Santa using anything at his disposal to take out the bad guys.

David Harbor literally kills it as Santa Claus. He plays him as a world-weary drunk who questions why he even continues to do his job. He prefers not to interfere with people’s lives and only drops off presents to children on his nice list. While not many details about his past are given to the audience, we do know that he is at least 1000 years old and used to be a Scandinavian warrior named Nicomund the Red. He was not a nice guy and would’ve been at the top of the naughty list if there was one at the time. Even though he is extremely out of practice Santa is still a fierce combatant that is very skilled with a sledgehammer. His persona is also strikingly similar to Santa from Rise of the Guardians with his gruff attitude and tattoed body.

Other members of the cast shine as well. Beverly D’Angelo is hilarious as Gertrude, the foul-mouthed matriarch of the Lightstone clan. Gertrude is a tough cookie who doesn’t even bat an eye at the fact that she’s being robbed and her entire family held hostage. John Leguizamo turns in an over-the-top hilarious performance as the mercenary leader Jimmy Martinez. He has the typical villain backstory that explains why he hates Christmas and a small connection to Santa as the jolly gift-giver could have changed the course of his life if he intervened more. Leguizamo elevates any film he’s in and turned in a similarly great performance in The Menu this year as well.

With bloodcurdling violence, tons of action, some comedy, and a sweet story at its center Violent Night is an instant Christmas classic! I give Violent Night a Decent 8/10. I would enjoy seeing a sequel pronto. Hopefully, they explain a little more of Nicomund’s backstory, how he became Santa, what’s the deal with Mrs. Claus (who better be played by Winona Ryder) and how “Christmas magic” actually works.

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