Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Content Caution

Silent Night 2023


In Theaters


Home Release Date




Paul Asay

Movie Review

You could call Brian Godluck the strong, silent type.

He used to be neither. Before Christmas Eve in 2021, Brian was simply a husband, a father, an electrician. He didn’t have much, but he had enough. He had a family. And actually, that was more than enough.

But that Christmas Eve morn, as he and Taylor, his little boy, were playing with the boy’s shiny new bike, a couple of vehicles filled with gang members drove through the neighborhood, shooting at each other. One stray bullet took the life of his son. And when Brian gave chase, another bullet slammed into his throat.

Physically, he recovered from his wounds with one big exception: The bullet destroyed his ability to speak. But Taylor’s death damaged him far more. He spent months lost in a haze of booze as his worried wife, Saya, looked on.

But what came next was worse for Saya. Brian chucked the booze and picked up a whole bunch of bullets, firing off thousands on the firing range. He bought other weapons, too—plunking down cold cash for cold, illegal steel. He turned his own body into a killing machine. And he bought a sports car and turned it into a vehicle fit for one hard, heavy night’s work.

That night’s work? It’ll fall on Christmas Eve, of course—the first anniversary of Taylor’s death. He knows the gang responsible for killing his little boy. He knows the man who shot him in the throat. And on his calendar in his ill-lit workroom, he’s written three little words on the box marked Dec. 24.

“Kill them all.”

Positive Elements

We don’t see Brian at his emotional best. But from what we can gather before Taylor’s death, Brian seems like a loving dad. We can laud his desire to decommission some bad guys, too (though we can’t condone his methods), and he tries to save someone during the course of his killing spree.

After the tragedy strikes, Saya does her best to cope with her husband’s grief and destructive tendencies. She eventually leaves him—at least for a while—but the two still seem to care about each other very much.

Spiritual Elements

Christmas is obviously a big deal, and we see plenty of secular nods to the holiday—from Christmas cards to oversize Christmas ornaments to Brian’s ugly Christmas sweater. The only overt nod to its spiritual side comes when Brian’s in the hospital, where we hear “Silent Night” play as doctors work on the guy, and Saya weeps in the halls outside.

That said, there’s another symbolic Christian undercurrent here. Brian pushes away his alcohol dependence and dives into his vengeful mission on Easter weekend—emphasizing Brian’s own “rebirth,” if you will.

A woman has the name Venus, the name of the Roman goddess of beauty and love, tattooed on her chest.

Sexual Content

The main bad guy, Playa, has a girlfriend. She wears moderately revealing clothing the few times we see her, showcasing leg and cleavage. The two make out a bit and seem to engage in foreplay—a private moment we see through Brian’s telephoto lens.

Brian and Saya cuddle sadly on a couch. We see a couple of guys shirtless.

Violent Content

Have you ever been to Yellowstone National Park and seen some of its spitting geysers and burbling pots and the like? I suspect director John Woo has. He seems to have taken some inspiration from them—substituting blood for Yellowstone’s sulfuric water.

When Brian’s shot in the throat, we’re treated to an incredibly drawn-out operation, where blood pools and gurgles from the wound in his neck like boiling grits. When Brian turns the tables, several people briefly spout blood as they fall to the ground. One man experiences a very short blood geyser right from the top of his head (where we also see a red exit wound). Another man—hanging onto the roof of a car—is shot repeatedly by the car’s driver. When the car stops, blood oozes down the windshield … but it’s joined by a quick spatter of blood, too (suggesting that the bullet punctured an artery).

And, of course, literally dozens of people die—mostly gang members, but a few police officers and others, too. Most perish via gunplay, and most every gun-related fatality or injury is accompanied by sudden blooms of blood on the victim’s clothes. Some of those shooting victims might not necessarily succumb to the bullets, but the subsequent drops off stairways surely would’ve polished them off. We see a couple of people shot in the head. Brian is peppered with bullets—most of which sink into his bullet-proof vest, but a few find flesh. Others suffer nonfatal bullet wounds, too.

People die in a handful of other notable ways, too. One is crunched against a pillar while clutching the outside of a vehicle. Another is strangled. Several are set alight by an explosion and then shot to death. (Another explosion kills a few other folks as well.) One guy has his head taken off by a forklift prong. (Taylor’s death, in sharp contrast to everyone else, is treated far more modestly: We glimpse the parents as they clutch the bloodied body, but we neither see the boy’s face nor the fatal wound.)

Brian engages in hand-to-hand combat with a few people, as well. Combatants get hit, kicked, thrown, choked and—with alarming frequency—stabbed (in the shoulders, legs and arms). People are knocked unconscious by blows a time or two, and one man is tied up in a terribly uncomfortable position, hanging from the rafters of a ceiling.

A couple of people get hit by cars. One man is stabbed in the gut. A windshield is smashed by a metal rod. A massive intergang shootout turns a neighborhood into a war zone. People repeatedly fire at, and from, moving vehicles.

Crude or Profane Language

For a movie without really any formal dialogue, you’d think we’d have very little to say in this section. Ah, but the film still figured out a way to sneak in four f-words: one via graffiti, one via a text message, one via panicked police radio transmission and one muffled by a gag.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The gang in question is heavily involved in the drug trade, and we see several of Playa’s henchmen selling stuff on street corners and in parking lots. Playa himself is quickly surrounded by innocent-looking teens brandishing money, and then by children (though perhaps they just see him as a neighborhood hero who might give them candy.)

Playa snorts a few lines of cocaine, and his girlfriend seems to be addicted to some harder stuff. We see track marks on her arm. And when she seems nearly comatose, Playa injects her with a needle, which seems to revive her and make her feel ever-so good.

Brian’s drug of choice, meanwhile, is alcohol. When he returns from the hospital, he soon grabs what appears to be a bottle of vodka and walks away from his wife. The film suggests that he spends months in a drunken stupor: He sits in his partially darkened workroom, slouching in a seat while bottles pile up on the table next to him.

Other Negative Elements

After killing someone, Brian opens his car door and vomits. Someone dumps what looks to be ice cream on Brian’s head, laughing as she walks away.


Silent Night is for people who think there’s far too much talking in action movies these days. This is a film without any real dialogue. The actors couldn’t forget their lines, because there weren’t any lines to forget.

Sure, we hear some words here and there: chipper radio personalities chatting about the news; panicked police officers shouting over their own channels; a few whispered words here or there. But there are no real conversations, no heart-to-heart chats, no verbal threats. Most movie scripts run between 90 and 120 pages. You might be able to fit every word heard in Silent Night on an index card.

That gimmick, director John Woo tells Vulture, “allowed me to use visuals to tell the story, to tell how the character feels.” And in that, the film succeeds. Brian (played aptly by Joel Kinnaman) is no super-assassin, no man with a “very particular set of skills.” He’s an everyman. So during his quest for revenge, we see at times how tired, how terrified, how out of control he can sometimes be.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s true to some extent. But man, the pictures we see here might be ones you’d pay to forget.

Listen, I’m no stranger to cinematic gore, but I had to turn away for a second or two from the screen during Brian’s over-long throat operation. If words are scarce, blood is ubiquitous—in trickles, in spurts, in veritable rivers. Its protagonist never speaks. But the blood he sheds screams. It’s telling that, in its trailer, we’re given the tagline, “Nothing speaks louder than revenge.”

Despite the film’s name, despite the film’s conceit, Silent Night is anything but.

The Plugged In Show logo
Elevate family time with our parent-friendly entertainment reviews! The Plugged In Podcast has in-depth conversations on the latest movies, video games, social media and more.
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.