Movie Review: Violent Night

Credit: Violent Night

Santa is back! But this time, he’s an ass-kicking warrior doing more than stocking stuffings this year. Violent Night stars David Harbour as Mr. Klaus, who happens to be on the premise of a wealthy family’s home as an elite team is robbing them of mercenaries. Santa Claus will show that he’s more than a jolly spirit who brings gifts. The film also stars Alexis Louder, John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, and Beverly D’Angelo.

Violent Night is, well…violent. Given the name and rating for this feature, that shouldn’t be a surprise, but given the nature of this Christmas-themed film, the vulgarity and extreme gory certainly were. This isn’t a bad thing in my book. I bring this up to give people a heads-up if they’re planning to bring their kids to what they think might be an innocent Christmas film. If you love gore and violence, this film is for you. However, this isn’t just a standard action pic with tough-guy one-liners and crazy set pieces; Violent Night does have a story with heart and a compelling central character. Santa is depressed. His marriage is on the rocks. And he’s not happy about how materialistic the world has become in 2022. This gives Santa a meaningful arc that allows him to recapture his Christmas spirit, and David Harbour is more than up to the task. His dynamic with Trudy Lightstone (Leah Brady) is the film’s heart, and it’s great that the filmmakers took the time to build characters instead of going gonzo action crazy. Harbour never feels out of place in the action scenes, and The Stranger Things star has his charm and wit on full display. The film has more heart and humor than expected, and it’s certainly all the better for it.

Credit: Violent Night

Regarding the other cast members, Brendan Fletcher’s Krampus stands out the most as a fun supporting character. However, Cam Gigandet’s Morgan Lightstone and Alex Hassell’s Jason Lightstone are great. John Leguizamo is…acting. His character is given some dimension but not much; however, Leguizamo feels he’s simply going through the motions. It won’t be the worst acting you’ll ever see, but his performance does stand out like a sore thumb. After Cop Shop (A tremendous and underrated 2021 action film), it’s disappointing that Alexis Louder isn’t given much to do, and Beverly D’Angelo plays her part well. Still, she’s not much of a factor either.
Some jokes miss. And there are some annoying characters, but thankfully, they don’t dominate the screen. Not surprisingly, the action is intense. Is John Wick good? No, but it’s gritty, brutal, fun, and inventive. There’s an intriguing backstory on why Santa is this ultimate ass-kicker. The most memorable moments that will come out of this film are the incredible kills. There’s a kill so excellent that it reaches Mortal Kombat fatality awesomeness (the game, not the movie). You’ll know the kill when you see it.

Credit: Violent Night

There’s also a fun homage to Home Alone, and the movie does an excellent job of paying respect to the Christmas classic while giving some biting commentary. Violent Night is not a perfect movie, but it will be a crowd-pleaser. Again, this all comes down to your tolerance of the violence presented within the film. This is pretty much Die Hard with Santa, yet it never feels like a knockoff as it stands on its own two feet. A fun Christmas movie that’s a welcome return to classic action movies and a fun deviation from any of the other films playing right now.

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