|SILENT NIGHT/Beltrami/La-La Land/CDLegendary action director John Woo returns to the big screen with this unique and bold cinematic experiment in SILENT NIGHT, a wild big-screen action drama starring Joel Kinnaman, Kid Cudi, Harold Torres, and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Kinnaman plays Brian Godluck, whose young son is killed by local gang members in a drive-by shooting on Christmas Eve. Godluck’s attempt to chase down the culprits goes awry when a gang member shoots him in the throat and leaves him for dead. Even though he has lost his ability to speak, Godluck sets out for revenge against his son’s killers. The score by Marco Beltrami, assisted by score producer Buck Sanders and performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the music revolves around Godluck’s grief and the resultant breakup of his marriage as he is determined to may the gangsters pay for their careless neighborhood violence that lost him his son. Beltrami provides a riveting, inventive, and immersive original score that serves with repetitive uses of plucked and percussive instruments, such as the recurring muted cymbal clash and pounding drums of “Prepping to Kill” and other cues like “Get A Stang And Some Guns” that elevate Godluck’s intention and grief.
Beltrami’s score becomes the film’s core “voice,” communicating Godluck’s highly charged emotions, thoughts, and ferocious intentions while expertly supporting all the pulse-pounding action and deep pathos. In the aftermath of the killing of his young son, the music box that his son was playing in the front yard when the gang members’ bullets ripped him to pieces becomes a recurrent sonic element in the score, from the chimes of “Pain in the Neck” (also referencing Godluck’s bullet wound), the wistful memory of “Soccer on the Lawn,” the sad memories and painful, poignant remembrance of “Son’s Bedroom,” and other recollections that spur him into vengeance against the gang members, as does the mix of chimes and the grim, downward tonality that is associated with “The Killer.”
“When a movie is free of dialogue, Marco’s music is the strongest language,” Woo writes in a note for the album booklet. Beltrami adds: “The fact that the making character cannot speak and is overcome with anger, frustration, and grief meant that the music had to provide an emotional window into his thoughts. Buck and I started with this simple motive that we first played with when we had two pianos tuned to ¼ tone apart. It’s this repeated figure that felt very much in tune with Godlock’s obsession, and John responded immediately to it. The key to creating the music was to write a simple melody that also contained the seeds of Godlock’s emotional bond with his lost son. When harmonized, this theme transforms into the music heard at the gravesite, in his son’s bedroom, and at the end of the film.” The score laces Godlock’s relentless revenge on behalf of his son with a persistent tone and beat, which maintains the father’s drive to learn how to stand up against the gang’s many killers as much as it reflects the final beats of his son’s heart on their bloody-strewn front lawn. At the end of the film, after all the vengeance and spectacular car chases as Godlock chases down the gangsters, and Godlock’s wild retribution has been sated, the film closes with a poignant scene at the son’s gravesite and a tender end credit arrangement of the Christmas carol “Silent Night” for acoustic guitar, cello, and strings, arranged by Beltrami’s son Triston (his other son, Hayden, played drums on the score). Performed by The Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the score, produced by Marco with Buck Sanders and Dan Goldwasser, mastered by Doug Schwartz, the score is a terrific action powerhouse (John Woo very much back in form) that is laced through with pathos, grief, retribution, and, inevitably, a dark satisfaction.