A hilarious Christmas action-comedy that feels like the result if Die Hard 2, Home Alone and Fatman had a ménage à trois.

Hard to believe it’s been two years since Mel Gibson helped reinvent the possibilities of Santa Claus in the hilarious Fatman comes Violent Night, an action-comedy set on Christmas Eve where a grouchy and alcoholic Santa must fight to save a wealthy family from a group of vicious mercenaries. Oh, and to save Christmas, of course. After watching a string of terrible new films recently it was refreshing to finally see a well-executed (literally) Christmas movie that feels like Die Hard 2, Home Alone and Fatman had a ménage à trois. This film is a holiday themed double-barreled blast.

Santa (David Harbour) isn’t feeling so jolly this year. Disappointed by the materialism of today’s children in a world that doesn’t believe he exists, Santa has turned to the bottle and is considering calling it quits with the whole Christmas thing. But his night is about to get worse. Much worse.

In Greenwich, Connecticut, the wealthy Lightstone family are having a family Christmas get together. With Jason Lightstone (Alex Hassell) trying to reunite with his estranged wife Linda (Alexis Louder) and his daughter Trudy (Leah Brady), along with his sycophant family members competing to win favor from the family matriarch Gertrude Lightstone (Beverly D’Angelo), Christmas Eve is already looking grim.

But the night gets worse when mercenaries led by Jimmy Martiznez (John Leguizamo), AKA “Mr. Scrooge”, crash the festivities with a plan to rob the Lightstone family of the great wealth stored in Gertrude’s safe. But what Mr Scrooge and his cronies didn’t count on is that their gunfire scared off Santa’s reindeer, leaving him stranded at the Lightstone estate. In order for Santa to save the Lightstones and ultimately Christmas, he’s going to have to dish out more than lumps of coal to these bad guys who are definitely on his naughty list.

David Harbour is perfectly cast as our grouchy, alcoholic Santa with a bit of an attitude – who knows how to kick some serious butt. He easily switches from being the drunk at the pub to the hammer-wielding warrior to the caring father figure making him my favorite Santa put to screen. Harbour effortlessly channels the action, the attitude, as well as the comedy while also sprinkling some Christmas magic into the mix. It’s unfortunate many children won’t get to enjoy this version of Santa because Harbour is truly the Santa we all need this year – brutally violent.

John Liguizamo is also fantastic as the villainous Mr Scrooge – a man who hates Christmas and only cares about what he can gain for himself. Liguizamo spits bad guy dialogue as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger delt out one-liners in his heyday (that’s a compliment) and I loved every scene he was in. He easily embodies the baddie you don’t want to mess with and this could be one of his greatest roles as the man who threatens the future of Christmas.

Director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) has crafted a fantastic Christmas movie for adults that will reignite the love for other great Christmas movies like Home Alone, Die Hard 2 (the first few Die Hard movies are Christmas movies), and, yes, even Fatman. He’s perfectly blended brutal action with comedy while also capturing that Christmas spirit and magic you get from only the best traditional holiday fare.

What I especially liked about Violent Night were the references to Home Alone – a film I loved as a kid – incorporated into the story making the child character Trudy more than just another family member who needed saving. She’s able to help Santa take on the bad guys by becoming resourceful and come up with her own traps for Mr Scrooge’s goons – only at a much more hardcore level. Did you ever stop to think how sadistically violent Home Alone actually was? Santa has nothing on Macaulay Culkin.

Violent Night is one of the best Christmas movies I’ve seen…for adults. It brought all that Christmas goodness wrapped in a Die Hard-eque story filled with ultra-violence, plenty of comedy, family love and a great cast who deliver the goods. I hope this is the first of many more Christmas movies involving David Harbour’s Santa although – can the same $#!T happen to the same guy again and again over Christmas? Just ask John McClane.

  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Release Date: December 2, 2022
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures

Originally published on December 12, 2022 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/movie-reviews/violent-night-2022/