Saturday, December 31, 2022

Violent Night

Premiered December 2, 2022.

Christmas Eve has arrived. However, Santa Claus (David Harbor) feels cynical about his role in the holiday.  He takes a break from his deliveries to drown his sorrows in a bar.

At the same time, in Greenwich, CT, Jason Lightstone (Alex Hassell), his wife Linda (Alexis Louder) and their daughter Trudy (Leah Brady) are driving to his mother’s mansion for the Lightstone family’s elaborate Christmas celebration.  Linda and Jason’s marriage is in trouble and they’ve been living apart.  Trudy is angry at her father because he forgot to take her to see Santa at the mall.  The only thing she wants for Christmas is for her parents to get back together.  

Jason’s mother Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo) heads a major international oil corporation and has illegally obtained much of her wealth.  This comes back to haunt her when gunmen led by Jimmy Martinez (John Leguizamo) take the Lightstones hostage and demand billions of dollars.  Jimmy and his minions take on Christmas-related codenames, with Jimmy calling himself “Scrooge.”

When Santa arrives at the Lightstone house to deliver presents to Trudy, he quickly realizes what’s going on.  Santa steps into action and kills several gunmen. 

Can Santa save the Lightstone family and regain his Christmas spirit?  Or will Jimmy and his gang cancel Christmas forever?

J.A. Morris says:

I’ll mention up front that if you’ve heard of Violent Night, you probably know it’s not for kids and contains more violence and gore than just about anything we’ve reviewed here.  It definitely brings the violence its title promises.  Having said that, it's a very good R-rated action movie.  The main attraction here is David Harbor as Santa Claus.  Fans of Stranger Things (where Harbor famously portrayed police chief Jim Hopper)  will probably enjoy Violent Night. With anyone else in the role, this movie wouldn’t have worked.  

Gertrude Lightstone is played by Beverly D’Angelo.  I’m thinking this was a bit of stunt-casting, since D’angelo also plays Ellen Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (and other Vacation movies).  She’s convincing in Violent Night as a corporate oil executive who will use criminal methods to maximize profit.

Since this is a recently-released film I don’t want to reveal too much here.  So I’ll just say that I thought some of the bad guys in this movie got off easy, which keeps me from giving the movie my highest rating.

Still, it’s a well-made action movie and it’s entertaining from start to finish.  If you’re looking for blood and gore and Santa killing terrorists in novel ways, you will appreciate Violent Night.  

J.A. Morris's rating:

3 candy canes.

RigbyMel says:

Violent Night is an outrageously over the top Christmas action movie. It definitely earns its R-rating and is decidedly not for kids. When we saw the trailer earlier this year, I was reminded of a parody promo from Scrooged called "The Night The Reindeer Died" and thought it might have potential, especially with David Harbor as Santa.

When we went to see Violent Night, my impression was reinforced. David Harbor makes an appealing world-weary, butt-kicking St. Nick. I also enjoyed the way the film managed to tie in some of Santa's mythological connection to Odin in an interesting way. Also, Harbor's experience working with young actors in Stranger Things pays off with his interactions with young Trudy (played by Leah Brady), who makes you root for the family despite some of the loathsome behavior of her relatives.

As its title might suggest, the film is VERY violent indeed, making use of every conceivable holiday decoration -- up to and including a baby Jesus from a manger scene -- into a weapon of some sort or other. Some of the violence is so out there that it becomes humorous. And I am one of those people who tends to wince when people get punched in movies. I still winced, but I also laughed throughout Violent Night.

There are also darkly humorous turns such as the bad guys having ridiculous holiday themed code names ("Scrooge" and "Krampus," of course, but also "Frosty," "Sugarplum," and "Candy Cane.") However, under the mordant humor, violence and gore lies an almost sweet holiday tale of good triumphing over evil and a very entertaining holiday action flick.

RigbyMel's rating: 

3 candy canes 

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