Violent Night (2022): A Movie So Naughty It Deserves to be On This Season’s Nice List

“Violent Night” is directed by Tommy Wirkola (What Happened to Monday, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) and stars David Harbour (Black Widow, Hellboy), John Leguizamo (Ice Age, The Menu), Alex Hassell (The Boys, Cowboy Bebop), Alexis Louder (Copshop, The Tomorrow War), Edi Patterson (Plan B, Vice Principals), Cam Gigandet (The O.C., Reckless), Leah Brady (The Umbrella Academy, Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls), and Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation, American History X). This film is set during Christmastime, and when a family gets together at a large house to celebrate the holiday, a group of mercenaries attempt to infiltrate the property. With the family in trouble, it is up to Santa Claus to save this family from harm by stopping the infiltrators in their tracks.

Ah… The holidays… The most wonderful time of the year. Full of joy, happiness, and all the pretty things. Plus, you know, materialism. It is the that time of the year to beat up some bad guys!!! In this season where everyone is inevitably going to be rewatching a bunch of comforting holiday classics like “Elf” or “The Polar Express,” “Violent Night” presents itself as an antithesis to the familiar “Christmas movie.” Yes, it is Christmastime. Yes, there is Santa Claus. Yes, there are Christmas songs playing in the background. But instead of watching the next “Fred Claus,” there is a chance that with “Violent Night,” I have just tuned into the next “Die Hard.”

For those of you who have seen “Die Hard” and defend it as part of the many Christmas movies out there, you might say that it is not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Plaza. Similarly, I think Christmas came early this year when Santa bashed a bunch of mercenaries and put them in their place. Now am I going to put “Violent Night” on in front of my family while opening Christmas presents? Maybe not. However, once all the unwrapping is done and I find some privacy, I might put it on because this film is beautifully gory and as the name suggests, violent. It knows how to have fun from scene one to the climax.

David Harbour is excellent as Santa Claus, and part of it is because of the script. When I usually think of Santa I usually think of a jolly old man who can do no wrong. This film showcases a Santa who has grown tired of his job, he is sick of delivering the same trendy gifts to children, but he also seems to have a soft spot for the children that stand out on his nice list. Now, if I had one minor complaint, it is that the film occasionally resorts to kids’ animation humor where Santa calls out one of his reindeer for taking a dump on a roof, but that would be a small script flaw in an otherwise entertaining flick. Harbour carries this film as Santa Claus and I would not mind seeing more of him as the character.

Although speaking of the script, it is not the most verisimilitude-filled story of the year. Although to be fair, when you have a Santa Claus that beats up bad guys Deadpool style, that does not exactly call for the most realistic story of all time. In fact, there are certain conveniences and happenings in the movie that occur and the excuse that gets brought up in those moments is that it is “Christmas magic.” As someone who has seen and reviewed a ton of movies, it has become notoriously difficult to “turn off my brain.” But sometimes, the best thing to do in a movie like this is to follow this saying uttered by Barbara from “Tenet,” specifically… “Don’t try to understand it, feel it.”

And I can tell you how I felt after watching this movie. In a word, incredible.

I also like the scenes when the family happen to all be together. For the record, this movie takes place in an extravagant household and the people inside are all wealthy or notable. A couple standouts include Alex Hassell as Jason Lightstone, the favorite son. Gertrude Lightstone, who leads the family corporation. Also, Alexander Elliot as Bert, a young man who will do anything to get attention on social media. For the most part, the main group sounds like a bunch of entitled people. And in some ways, that is as accurate of a description as I could give them. But much like “The Menu,” which I reviewed last month, it was difficult for me to find any of these privileged individuals annoying or obnoxious. Credit where credit is due.

Although when it comes to the mercenaries, they are equally as entertaining. Most notably, John Leguizamo as “Scrooge.” (center) While I think there are more memorable antagonists in other movies, few have made me go through such an immediate transition to make me literally despise them (in a good way) like the one in this flick did. There is a moment where the stakes transition from the fates of one household to every kid on earth, and it is because of this guy. Leguizamo sells the part like hotcakes and I certainly bought it.

Before going into “Violent Night,” I heard this movie is similar to “Die Hard” and “Home Alone” and in some ways, that is an accurate description of what this film is in essence. There are unused elements brought to the table. For instance a deadly Santa Claus, and the idea of Christmas itself being saved, but if you like “Home Alone” and “Die Hard,” there is a good chance you might enjoy “Violent Night.” This is likely a coincidence, and also not the most cinematic example, but I would say there is a pinch of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” sprinkled here too because the bad guys all have code names that are Christmassy.

As I have said, this film is violent, brutal, and not the most happy go lucky depiction of the holidays. It is cute, but not cuddly. But one thing this film gets right is that it does not simply resort to being a full-fledged slaughterhouse of a time and instead balances its brutality with some earned heart. Santa Claus and Trudy’s connection powers the film into the night sky and blasts it away full throttle. Seeing a somewhat broken Santa enjoy a conversation with a girl who evidently fulfills many qualifications on the nice list is heartwarming. “Violent Night” does for Christmas movies what “The Suicide Squad” did for comic book movies. It gave a satisfying journey that perfectly balances rambunctiousness with sweetness. It is not all rainbows and unicorns, but the rainbows and unicorns that do exist are not out of place.

“Violent Night” brings on the true meaning of Christmas. Watching Santa Claus give some old jolly saint nicks, red noses, and 12 days of pain. Watch it if you have a chance.

In the end, “Violent Night” does not sell itself short, it is beautifully naughty but to the point where it feels nice watching it. If you are looking for action, look no further. If you are looking for gore, look no further. You might not be looking for comfort and joy, but you may be delighted to find it here. David Harbour plays a great Santa Claus and I would not mind seeing another movie where he returns to play the character. Whether it means he deals with a different family or group of people like Benoit Blanc in “Knives Out” or we return to see another adventure with him and the Lightstones. I want more of this character, give it to me now. I am going to give “Violent Night” a 7/10.

“Violent Night” is now playing in theatres everywhere, including large formats like Dolby Cinema and Cinemark XD. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have another one coming soon! Tonight I will be seeing “Empire of Light,” directed by Sam Mendes. The film hits select theaters starting tomorrow night so I hope to have a review up by the middle of next week. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Violent Night?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite on-screen Santa Claus? I’ll even count the fake ones like the department store Santa from “A Christmas Story.” List your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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Copshop (2021): Just Another Bloody Day at the Police Office

“Copshop” is directed by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, The Blacklist) and stars Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Purge: Anarchy), Gerard Butler (Gods of Egypt, 300), and Alexis Louder (Watchmen, The Originals) in a film centered around a rookie cop who must deal with those who surround her in a police station.

I saw this film late at night at a local AMC because I had nothing better to do except shove popcorn in my face. I heard things about this film, some of which were positive, so I was intrigued. The reality is that when it comes to “Copshop,” I do not think I saw a single trailer of the film before letting the film shine on the screen for the first time.

I like my action films. Although when it comes to “Copshop,” it was something I could not really place in any box. It was an experience where I had to keep my eyes open, sit down, wait for the screen to brighten with some action. And despite this movie mostly taking place in one location with a somewhat limited set of characters, action there was. “Copshop” is not a movie I will be running down the streets screaming about, asking everyone to flock to the theater just to see it, but it is one that I recommend. If you like cop media, you might find this movie entertaining. If you like a blend of action and comedy, you might find this movie fun. This is a film that put me into the action and made me ask what the best move for our protagonist, Valerie Young, could possibly be. She is put into dangerous situations with potentially dire outcomes, and at times, the stakes feel high despite the movie not feeling incredibly enormous. I will give the writers credit where it’s due for coming up with a concept that does not feel expansive on the surface, but that expansiveness grows in terms of potential outcomes.

The reality is that “Copshop,” conceptually, does not break new ground. Glimmers of it can evoke a “been there, done that” feel. But if you have seen a number of movies that have a concept of someone getting revenge over the past number of years, you may agree that not every movie needs to break ground to be great. Some great movies can handle clich├ęs to such a satisfying extent that can leave the viewer hooked, and “Copshop” is an example of that.

As for the cast in this film, I had some past experience with Frank Grillo’s work in the MCU, and just this summer I saw him in the Ryan Reynolds sequel, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.” I was never completely invested in Grillo’s career, but I nevertheless had a knowledge of who he was. The one question mark I had about this movie though, aside from what the heck this film is truly about given the little research I did on it, was Gerard Butler, because as much as I like him, I also think some of his script choices have been questionable between “Gods of Egypt” and “Geostorm” because even though I’ve seen one of these projects, I could look at both of them and place them in a “Walmart DVD bin” category because they’re movies that if you gave yourself a sneak peek at them, you’d probably find somewhat hilarious for the wrong reasons. Seriously… “Geostorm” sounds like a straight to Syfy crapfest. But I will say, despite everything I just said, Gerard Butler is almost my favorite part of the film in terms of performances. Without giving much away, the reason why I like Gerard Butler in this film so much is because despite the fact that he spends much of the movie in one spot, barely even moving, he can deliver some great lines and some swagger in between.

This is movie is also the supposed theatrical film introduction of Alexis Louder and I think she does a fantastic job in the movie. Louder has a rugged, shaky presence to her. Louder has shown that she can be a force of nature, one that feels so big in a film that is incredibly small. She’s obnoxious, stern, and takes no prisoners. As an observer of her performance in this film alone, I cannot wait to see whatever it is that Alexis Louder will do next.

My favorite performance in the film personally comes from Tony Huss, known for his work on “King of the Hill.” Appropriately, he is the king of “Copshop.” Huss, or as I like to call him, James Murray at age 60, plays a character by the name of Anthony Lamb, he’s the antagonist of the film, he’s the one infiltrating the office, and I like his performance between a mix of simple ingredients. Tony Huss himself, obviously. I will also add the quirky, poppy writing, and there’s a sense of goofiness within this character that sholuld be out of place, but for whatever reason, Huss makes it work like a charm. You have all these people such as Alexis Louder and Gerard Butler who go through the movie with this tone that feels as hard as a cheese grater at times. It still can be lighthearted. It still can be funny. But given who their characters are, they feel all rough and tough. Huss at times feels like a literal clown. I could almost imagine Alexis Louder’s character as a Batman kind of figure facing off against Tony Huss’s character, which I would compare to the Joker.

If I had any problems with “Copshop,” nothing grand comes to mind. “Copshop” hits most of the beats it needs to hit, but I will admit, this is one of those reviews where I am talking about the movie long after I’ve seen it, so I can confirm this statement, this is not one of the more memorable films I have seen. “Copshop” is a fun film, but it is predictable and sometimes by the numbers. But it does not mean it does not pack its own flair into it. I would recommend the film, despite the few flaws it has.

In the end, “Copshop” is a good time. I think the cast is great, some of the dialogue is well written and occasionally funny. Gerard Butler gives one of the best performances of his career. And if this film has done anything, it has made me a bigger fan of Tony Hull. I want to see him do more stuff in the future, I would love to watch him in more comedies. Alexis Louder may have a future in feature film, and I hope if you go see see this film in whatever way you can, that you had as fun of a time as I did. I’m going to give “Copshop” a 7/10.

“Copshop” is now playing in theaters. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Dear Evan Hansen,” the all new film based on the musical of the same name, and speaking of things based on other things, I will soon be sharing my review for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Stay tuned for these reviews, and do so by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Copshop?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Gerard Butler movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!