This Christmas, John Woo returns with his first American movie in 20 years! It’s not just any movie, either. This is a lean, mean, action thriller with no dialogue and more gunfights then you would expect from a years worth of movies.
John Woo's new movie for 2023 is called SILENT NIGHT, and it stars Joel Kinnaman (SUICIDE SQUAD) as a normal guy who takes on waves of criminals — at Christmas, naturally — after his family is victimized by violence. We've got the first trailer below and some quotes from Woo that help illustrate how this movie is different from what he's done before.
When Does Silent Night Open?
Lionsgate will release SILENT NIGHT exclusively in movie theatres on December 1. Consider it an early present.
Watch the Intense First Silent Night Trailer
The trailer helps demonstrate that the "no dialogue" angle isn't totally arbitrary, as Kinnaman's character is unable to speak due to injury. Does this look a lot like a JOHN WICK movie? Sure does! But since those movies were massively influenced by John Woo's films, it's like things are coming full circle.
John Woo has been a master action director for decades. His Hong Kong classics such as THE KILLER, HARD BOILED and A BETTER TOMORROW all helped establish Chow Yun Fat as a global superstar, and changed the way people look at movie action. When Woo came to America to make movies in the mid-1990s, for a while it seemed like he was constrained by studio expectations.
The trailer for SILENT NIGHT looks a lot like what we might have hoped Woo's first American movie would have been. (No disrespect intended to HARD TARGET, but we will say that Woo's own cut of that movie is far better than the original theatrical release.)
The Cast of Silent Night
In addition to star Joel Kinnaman, SILENT NIGHT features Scott Mescudi (X), Harold Torres, and Catalina Sandino Moreno.
John Woo Had to Change Up His Style for Silent Night
Making a movie with no dialogue creates a unique set of challenges. Important information all has to be conveyed visually, or through non-spoken sound effects and music. It's akin to the earliest days of filmmaking, really, before synchronized sound make dialogue omnipresent in movies. So there's that adjustment, for one — but Woo has always been an extraordinarily talented visual storyteller.
"Very interesting movie," Woo told Vulture. "The whole movie is without dialogue. It allowed me to use visuals to tell the story, to tell how the character feels. We are using music instead of language. And the movie is all about sight and sound."
SILENT NIGHT was also a relatively low budget production, and certainly by the standards of American movies Woo used to make. In the same interview mentioned above, he said "The budget was a little tight, and the schedule was tight, but it made me change my working style. Usually, for a big movie, a studio movie, we shoot a lot of coverage, then leave it to the cutting room. But in this movie, I tried to combine things without doing any coverage shots. I had to force myself to use a new kind of technique. Some scenes were about two or three pages, but I did it all in one shot."
John Woo's SILENT NIGHT opens on December 1.
All images courtesy of Lionsgate.