Violent Night (2022)
The movie might feel like a late night joke, but Violent Night is everything you could ask for with its Santa-meets-Die Hard concept as a bloody, junky fun bit of Christmas good tidings. I’ve noticed that 2022 is a year marked by highly violent, pulpy, well choreographed action-comedies such as The Princess and Bullet Train, and I think if you like any one of them, then you’d happily enjoy the others. For Violent Night, the movie smartly lays out its rules and limits and obstacles, and then allows the mayhem. Santa (David Harbour) is an alcoholic nihilist losing faith in the meaning of Christmas, and then through the events of one Christmas night, he’ll re-emerge as the Santa we deserve and need. The movie isn’t overly winky about its outlandish premise with the exception of some ironic catch-phrases that Santa has to drop for maximum attitude. The fights between Santa and the criminal crew are entertaining, well shot and choreographed, and make clever use of supernatural touches, like Santa’s magic portal presents bag and his list that can supply key details on any human. There is a sweet dynamic between Santa and a little girl named Trudy, who chats with Santa through a walkie talkie thanks to the power of belief. She’s the heart of the movie and helps motivate Santa to do better and save her family. The supporting characters are pretty stock and unremarkable but the draw of this movie is Harbour (Stranger Things) and the silly pomposity of its violence. It’s a gory, glory good time.
Nate’s Grade: B