Alex Reviews "Violent Night"
There are few movies that are seasonal requirements for Christmas to become official in my household. From Home Alone to holiday classics like A Christmas Story, Scrooged, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and (primarily) Die Hard, I am always looking for films to add to that list. This year, Violent Night launches itself towards the top of this list as a top three favorite Christmas movie already.
David Harbour (Black Widow) leads a high-quality cast as Santa Claus, who is stuck in the manor of a wealthy family being robbed by a team of well-trained mercenaries. Stranded and drunk, he must protect the nice family members from the naughty thieves in a story that can best be summed up as absolute ***ing ridiculous fun. Harbour’s “jolly” old Saint Nick is equal parts lovable and wildly intense in his violence while still being hilarious in even the darkest and simplest moments in the way that only he can. The most impressive part for me here the delicate balance between the traditional view of the character and just straight up assassin, which flips instantaneously with the setting more than once.
As the Nietzsche paraphrase goes: “The hero is only as good as his villain,” and to that, John Leguizamo (Encanto) will always be an incomparable actor and delivers on a massive scale in the role of the antagonist known under the code name of “Mr. Scrooge”. Consistent and intense in his delivery, I never questioned his character’s motivations outside of the moment intended to cover his back story, and he can even use that to impact the performance that much more.
The remaining members of this cast fit perfectly into very key and direct performances including Leah Brady as arguably the most likeable child in any movie I have seen in years as the grandchild caught between two estranged parents. Cam Gigandet (Never Back Down) shows a caricature of all his teen villain roles from the mid ‘00s who may have aged out of casting but does so in a very funny, aware way, while Edi Patterson awesomely adapts her role from The Righteous Gemstones directly into “Violent Night. There is one role that I hesitate to reveal as perfect because I was unaware of the family matriarch until she burst into frame, and I would want you to have that uninhibited joy I experienced with her arrival.
Violent Night is of course highly unlikely to win awards, but that is the thing that makes it a must-see movie. Most notably, the stunt team lead by Jonathon Eusebio (every John Wick movie) and Dan Skene (The Boys) takes every fight and action sequence from a set piece to artform in a way that I want to make sure is highlighted in a way that reminded me that they the among the first choices for any action movie whether it be from Marvel, smaller hits like Nobody, or everyone’s favorite Canadian comedy, Letterkenny.
Sometimes, movies are at their best when they are just fun with no overanalyzing or critiquing. Just shut your brain down, grab your snack of choice, and enjoy the ride of Violent Night as a perfect enjoyable one hundred minutes to end a long year headed into the holidays. And so we ae perfectly clear: it earns every bit of that “R” rating, so maybe don’t bring the kids or “Ho Ho Holy S***" will you have some explaining to do!