Starring: David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, Edi Patterson, Brendan Fletcher, Alex Hassell, Mike Dopud, Mitra Suri, Alexis Louder, Alexander Elliot, and Leah Brady
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Violent Night is an instant Christmas f***in’ classic. Director Tommy Wirkola put together a romping Family-Action-Christmas movie, intersecting violent brutality, heartwarming joy, hilariously campy comedy, and a pitch-perfect cast. While young Leah Brady (Trudy) holds the heart of the film, the battle between David Harbour (Santa) and John Leguizamo (Mr. Scrooge) is every bit as entertaining as you’d hope. The entire cast is having a blast, the script pays homage to multiple Christmas staples, and Dominic Lewis’ score perfectly sets the mood for the most fun you’ll have in theaters this year.
Violent Night delivers exactly what it promises, even if it takes a while to get there. This Christmas comedy is part Die Hard, part Home Alone, and part one of those films where a dysfunctional family gathers for the holidays, but David Harbour elevates it all as a grumpy Santa who rediscovers the meaning of Christmas through bloody mayhem. Also joining Harbour is a great comedic supporting cast that includes John Leguizamo, Edi Patterson, and Beverly D'Angelo. Violent Night may take its time getting to the promised violence, but when it does, it's wholly satisfying.
Pure and simple, Violent Night and its mid-90s action sensibilities are a ton of fun. The story isn’t perfect, leaving some of the more interesting bits unexplored, and it’s not particularly original either, borrowing heavily from Christmas classics like Home Alone and Die Hard. Still though, David Harbour is clearly having a blast, and the jolts of energy he provides with each Christmas pun and bloody action scene are infectious. I can easily see this becoming a holiday tradition for me, pairing extremely well as the action complement to Bad Santa.
It has its moments of mayhem and fun, but overall, Violent Night simply can’t compete with John Wick-style action films like Nobody or Atomic Blonde. It’s nowhere near disaster territory, but apart from David Harbour and John Leguizamo, no one in the film seems to be having all that much fun. The film’s script is weak enough for the action scenes to shine, but not strong enough for the viewer to ever care why they’re happening. One-dimensional characters and often terrible dialogue pepper the film throughout, so any time the Santa-action stops, the film slows down to a sludge-like crawl.
Ho-ho-holy crap! Violent Night is a film that takes two of my wildly contradicting loves and puts them together: Christmas and hard-R action. The result is a yuletide blast full of gore and fun. While some of the deeper goals aren’t always accomplished in its writing, it does succeed in accomplishing its core objective of creating a hyper-violent action film filled with the holiday spirit. Couple that with David Harbour having the time of his life playing a grizzled Santa Clause and plenty of laughter, and you got yourself an unhinged Christmas blast.