Violent Night (2022), Dir Tommy Wirkola, Universal Pictures, 3***: Matthew Alicoon

Violent Night

Universal Pictures

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Violent Night follows Santa Claus (David Harbour) as he must save a wealthy family who have been taken hostage by a group of mercenaries.

On the surface Violent Night sounds like utter stupidity. However, as the film understands what it is trying to entail, Violent Night works well as a parodic nuts and bolts Christmas film. It is consistently entertaining as with each action sequence; the stunts get crazier as the film progresses. There is something ridiculously entertaining about watching a man dressed as Santa Claus beating people up. Santa Claus also begins to understand more about the magic he possesses as the film goes along which is quite a fun narrative arc.

Violent Night pays homages to Die Hard and Home Alone, perhaps too directly targeted at those films. However, one of the films biggest issues is that outside of Christmas it has the possibility of being forgettable. Die Hard and Home Alone are timeless tales where being set at Christmas is just a bonus. If you were to remove the Christmas aspect of Violent Night it would become just a very generic action film. Violent Night is trying to be a Christmas Classic but it ends up just being sub-par.

The biggest let down in Violent Night is the script by Pat Casey and Josh Miller needs refinement. The wealthy family who are taken hostage are annoying and the personalities they embody are mundane. This is the third recent film of 2022 showcasing the wealthy lifestyle with previous films being Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and The Menu. However, unlike the two superior films Violent Night taps into the rich lifestyle at a surface-level which does make you feel unengaged with the family dynamic.

The two standout performances are David Harbour and Leah Brady. David Harbour relishes his role as Santa and makes the most of his screen time successfully. There is a charm to his interpretation of Santa Claus and it makes for a delightful watch. Leah Brady is such a naturally gifted actress. In the film Brady’s character is a big believer in Santa Claus, therefore the conversations between Harbour and Brady have so much humanity and realism involved, that it does make you think back to the time you were a kid and believed in Santa Claus. Violent Night does have heart and endearing moments which was nice to see as a viewer.

Overall Violent Night is a perfectly solid action film with disposable characters. However, the film will get you in the Christmas spirit.


David Harbour as Santa Claus

John Leguizamo as Mr Scrooge

Alex Hassel as Jason Lightstone

Leah Brady as Trudy Lightstone

Alexis Louder as Linda Matthews

Beverly Di Angelo as Gertrude Lightstone

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