Violent Night (2022) – Review
(1.5 / 4)
Violent Night spoils an intriguing premise with lackluster action, paper-thin characters, and a discordantly sentimental plot. If audiences want to see a Christmas-themed action flick, a classic like Die Hard serves them much better.
In this misfire of an action comedy, drunk and disillusioned Santa Claus (David Harbour) stumbles upon an armed invasion at the wealthy Lightstone family’s remote compound. Using the power of violence and Christmas magic, Santa Claus must stop Jimmy Martinez (John Leguizamo) and his mercenaries from murdering the Lightstones and looting their family’s wealth.
Rounding out the supporting cast of Violent Night are: Gertrude Lightstone (Beverly D’Angelo), the greedy and profane matriarch of the family business; Jason (Alex Hassell), Gertrude’s son whose lack of boundaries with work has trigger a rift with his wife Linda (Alexis Louder) and daughter Trudy (Leah Brady); and Alva (Edi Patterson), Jason’s sister hoping to cut him out of the family fortune in favour of her influencer son Bert (Alexander Elliot) and her new boyfriend, D-list actor Morgan Steel (Cam Gigandet).
The disappointment with Violent Night is chiefly how it wastes its interesting premise on a wildly formulaic script. The only interesting character, the violent and brutal Santa Claus, is unfittingly saddled with a restrained performance. There is simply not enough excitement from Santa’s aggression or humour throughout the film.
Every other character in this picture consists of a single generic trope beat incessantly throughout their entire screentime. The dialogue between each actor feels more artificial than the Yellow No. 5 in my popcorn bag. These performances are flatter than two-dimensional, if such a thing is even possible.
Fittingly, the plot of Violent Night is ludicrously threadbare, with no motivation given at all for any of the villains. Rather than fully diving into the hilarious premise of a violent, raging Santa Claus, the audience is stuck watching inane family drama between uncompelling side characters.
Occasionally, forgettable jokes provide cheap and scattered laughs, but that’s as good as the writing for this film gets. Whether you prefer smart humour or crude humour, the comedy in Violent Night is woefully raw and undercooked.
There are moments in Harbour and Leguizamo’s performances where they allow some cheese to peek through. It’s evident that if director Tommy Wirkola had given them the latitude to ham up their performances even further, the film’s tone would match its target audience much more closely.
Compounding the lackluster writing and direction of Violent Night are core technical failures on the production side. The sound mixing on this film is nothing short of horrendous work; dialogue is too quiet and easily muffled by overpoweringly loud sound effects. The soundtrack is a smattering of Christmas songs lazily cut over competently executed but largely unimpressive combat setpieces.
It’s baffling that the studio founded by the creator of John Wick and Atomic Blonde is responsible for this dreck. The lackluster action choreography is the final nail in the coffin for this half-baked disappointment of a motion picture.
Whether Violent Night is playing in theatres or streaming, this film is not worth anybody’s time to endure. Truthfully, in a matter of months it’s doubtful audiences will even remember this film existed. Don’t waste your time or your money on this one.