Violent Night Review-A Perfect Mix of Genres in this Holiday Movie Season

David Harbour has had some ups and downs in his career of late. He was part of the assembled cast of the hit series Stranger Things on Netflix. That launched his career into superstardom and off of that, he got the role of Hellboy in the reboot of the franchise. That didn’t go so well for him. He hopes that his latest role as Santa Claus in Violent Night, yes that Santa Claus, will get his career back on track. 

Santa Claus (David Harbour) is a broken-down old man who goes to a bar to drink his sorrow away. He has a love-hate relationship with his reindeer who help him deliver presents every Christmas Eve. He’s burnt out from doing his job for many years. When he ends up at a house that has a bunch of naughty men and women who attempt to rob the owner he notices it might be a moment for him that can get his love for the Christmas holiday back. Also, one little girl Trudy Lightstone (Leah Brady) might help him feel he is still needed in the world.

David Harbour infuses his unique talent for being cool and a little hard-edged into this character. He has a bit of the back story and that doesn’t hurt. The main thing is his swagger as an actor goes hand in hand with this character which he makes his own. There are many scenes where he utters Christmas one-liners and various catchphrases that only Santa Claus can say. I couldn’t imagine anybody else in this role in this film. He was perfectly cast.

This movie is a mix of holiday spirit mixed with a straightforward action film. The action is a mix of tried and true scenes of Harbour doing his thing using whatever is on hand to defend himself against the thugs robbing the house. Including a sledgehammer that gets pretty bloody from all the heads, it smashes in. Also, a scene where the young girl channels her inner Kevin Allister is quite bloody and gory. All the blood and gore mix well with the comedy of the situation.

With a film such as this, there must also come some villains, and the main villain is played by John Leguizamo. He is a tried and true bad guy in this movie. He has his reasons for doing what he’s doing there is a connection there. Of course, greed is always at the forefront of the bad guy’s minds no matter how altruistic their motives are. Leguizamo plays this character a little over the top but it fits in with the vibe of the movie perfectly.

The main family that is getting robbed lives in this secluded neighborhood with their own private security and they, like most families, have their own problems within their family dynamic. They are a bunch of suck-ups and lies and the little girl is the only redeeming member of this deplorable family. But there is just enough for this family to realize they need to change and the holiday and Santa Claus himself can help them change who they are with the help of a true believer.

The director, Tommy Wirkola, and the writers, Josh Miller and Patrick Casey, have combined genres to create a bloody action film with the Christmas spirit. With David Leitch as a producer, it makes sense that this movie has a feel of his films. There is so much that makes this movie so good it’s almost unbelievable. But in a way like a lot of action films it has its moments of ridiculousness. There are just sequences that made me think no that is not happening right now but I go with it because of what they were going for. That’s the way you as a viewer keep watching and believing in what you’re watching. What’s on-screen just sucks you in.

Violent Night is a mix of genres that work perfectly. It infuses a great Christmas spirit with the action films of the 80s and 90s starring Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Steven Segal. The bloody gory action is some of the best I’ve seen all year. Harbour makes this character all his own and rejuvenates his career with a film I’m sure will be around for a while in theaters. The word of mouth will keep this movie going for weeks and weeks. With all the awards contenders and arthouse films, this is the perfect counter-programming. Especially at this time at the beginning of December. This is a must-see by audiences this Christmas holiday season.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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