Apple TV+ keeps Charles Schultz’s legacy alive in the latest special, Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home Franklin. Raymond S. Persi directed the film, and the script was written by Robb Armstrong, Bryan Schultz, Craig Schultz, and Cornelius Uliano. An origin story of Peanuts’ most beloved characters, the film follows a boy named Franklin and his approach to making new friends.
John Woo cuts the dialogue to deliver the action in Silent Night
Following a two-decade hiatus from Hollywood, the iconic action director John Woo makes his return teaming up with the producers of the John Wick franchise for Silent Night from Lionsgate. Robert Archer pens the screenplay for the film, which features limited spoken dialogue.
It’s Christmas Eve 2021 in the Lone Star state, and Brian Godlock (Joel Kinnaman) is celebrating with his wife Saya (Catalina Sandino Moreno), and young son Taylor Michael. In the blink of an eye, the family is caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting in the middle of a gang war, and Taylor is killed.
As any father would, Brian gives chase to the killers only to wind up on the wrong of the bullet of gang leader Playa (Harold Torres), who shoots him in the neck and leaves him for dead, damaging his vocal cords in the process Over the next year while grieving the death of their Brian and Saya’s marriage falls apart.
Leading up to the anniversary of Taylor’s death, Brian begins to engage in bodybuilding, familiarizing himself with deadly weaponry and self-defense training to take out Playa and his gang. As Brian’s vengeance quest gets underway, Detective Dennis Vassel (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), who initially investigated Taylor’s murder, is trying to find the man responsible for taking out Playa’s gang and is hot on Brian’s trail.
I was first introduced to John Woo at age 12 when I rented his American directorial debut, Hard Target, and the video store clerk recommended two of Woo’s earlier films, The Killer and A Better Tomorrow, to me. I instantly became a fan of Woo’s style, particularly his usage of gun fu during action sequences. Following the lukewarm response to Windtalkers and Paycheck, Woo left Hollywood behind.
As a fan of his previous efforts and work outside Hollywood over the last decade, I was anxious to check out Woo’s latest. Crafting a film without dialogue is a vast undertaking for any director. Thankfully, Woo has a strong lead in Kinnaman, who fully taps into a grieving father displaying emotion with just his eyes. In that regard, Kinnaman is the reason to see the film as the supporting cast all fall into caricatures you would find in any action flick using revenge as the backdrop.
Nevertheless, I will credit Scott Mescudi, who brings a natural swag to his role as a cop. The rapper-turned-actor has some great moments where he engages in gun battles, so much so that I wouldn’t mind seeing him do another action flick. I will inform potential viewers that the film is a slow burn, so you have to wait for the action.
Certain purists may have reservations about the excessive utilization of subpar CGI and acknowledge that with a more robust screenplay, this film had the potential to be extraordinary. Regardless, when portraying intense gunfight sequences, John Woo remains unparalleled in his ability to captivate audiences.
In a departure from conventional shoot-em-up action films, Silent Night aligns itself more closely with Greek tragedies’ emotional weight and dramatic arcs. All things considered, this movie serves as a noteworthy reentry into the Hollywood landscape for John Woo.
Final Grade: C+
Silent Night is in theaters now and on VOD and digital platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Esteemed documentary filmmaker Kirk Fraser utilizes his talents to give flowers to one of Hip Hop’s iconic groups in Kings From Queens: The RUN DMC Story. The tripartite series presents a narrative previously untold about RUN DMC, arguably the most pivotal rap ensemble in music history. Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell came together on the unassuming streets of Hollis, Queens, before evolving into celebrated bastions of hip-hop culture—a genre once dismissed by critics as merely transitory.
Comedic television writer Seth MacFarlane brings one of his screen creations to the small screen in the prequel series Ted. The show is set in 1993; after the first film’s opening sequence and following a linear plot, the series depicts the early life of a sentient teddy bear toy named Ted, who lives with John Bennett (Max Burkholder) and his family in Massachusetts. John’s family members include his dad, Matt (Scott Grimes), mom, Susan (Alana Ubach), and cousin, Blaire (Giorgia Whigham). In the past, MacFarlane has mentioned that he’s always seen the character of Ted as one that’s character-based as opposed to premise-based, so there are numerous angles that he could have taken.