Michael's Movie Grade: B
A very smart and stylish action movie.
True to this film's title, this is pretty much a modern-day silent movie. There is pretty much no spoken dialogue throughout the movie. Pretty much the only dialogue you hear is over the radio, the characters themselves don't speak at all. However, unlike most modern-day silent films, this movie never tries to feel like a movie from the 1910's or 20's. Instead, the storyline is very much a modern day one. It is in fact a typical revenge thriller plot, in which a man's son gets killed and he goes after the people who killed him. Though this is a simple story, it is still very impressive how well it is told without dialogue. I have to assume that director John Woo studied classic silent films before making this movie because the whole film is done in a way in which dialogue would not add anything to it. There are even times in which you almost forget about the lack of dialogue. Because of this style of filmmaking, the emotional moments here actually work better than in most similar movies. You really feel for this guy and how hurt he is by the loss of his son. It is also heartbreaking how his obsession with revenge drives away his loving wife. The lack of dialogue whittles these scenes down to their most raw emotions and makes what is a typical movie story more emotional. Being a film by John Woo, this film of course also brings us some wonderful action set pieces. These are simply wonderful and beautifully filmed. They are also very exciting and fun to watch. The finale big action scene is action filmmaking at its finest. This film also uses the fact that the main character is a novice (instead of the ex-assassin or ex-military guy we usually see in these movies) to subvert what we are used to in this type of movie. The way this film does this is very intelligent and manages to both subvert what we are used to while still giving us just what we love about these movies.
Unfortunately, because of the very simple storyline, even at 1 hour and 44 minutes, this film seems longer than it needs to be. There are definitely times when it can drag. This is especially true of the training scenes, which simply feel much too long. Also, the scenes with the cop can feel like padding and he is frankly a rather boring character. I also feel this movie could have utilized its Christmas setting more to its advantage.
This film proves that visual storytelling is alive and well. Even with its familiar storyline, this manages to be a gripping and exciting action movie.