It is said that everyone grieves differently. They have their own ways of dealing with pain and loss. In John Woo’s film Silent Night, the protagonist, Brian Godlock, was a simple family man living in Texas. He used to work as an electrical technician for a company called South Electric. Brian’s entire world revolved around his preteen son, Taylor Michael, and his wife, Saya. Everything seemed perfect until a tragedy turned his entire world upside down. Silent Night is a simple revenge saga, but there is so much happening inside a mute protagonist that one cannot fully comprehend without putting oneself in the man’s shoes. So, without further ado, let’s look at the events of Silent Night and find out if Brian was able to fulfill his pursuit of revenge.
How did Taylor die?
It was a cheerful, sunny day when parents Brian and Saya were playing with their kid, Taylor, in their garden. The date was December 24, 2021, and young Taylor was looking forward to opening his Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive to see another day. Two cars occupied by members of rival gangs arrived in the vicinity while raining bullets on each other. As soon as Brian heard the gunshots, he tried to protect his son, but it was too late. A stray bullet hit Taylor and killed him on the spot. The father couldn’t accept the tragic fate and ran after those cars in order to seek revenge for his fallen son. However, at the end of the road, the head of the criminal gang, GI-7, Playa, shot Brian in the neck and took away his ability to vocalize his pain forever.
Brian did survive the gunshot, but he failed to express his grief the way he really wanted to. He tried screaming out in pain, but nothing came out. Approximately a month later, Saya brought Brian back from the hospital, but there, the man quickly realized that his “home” wasn’t there anymore. The house was intact, but the feeling of “home” had been crushed into pieces by those gang members who were selling drugs on the streets of Las Palomas. These people were destroying countless lives in order to make a profit, and Brian, who had lost his son, could very well see their looming shadows on every street and every signal. Brian needed to channel his pain and anger. He wanted to bring his son’s killer to justice, but the police were as ineffective as ever. Brian realized that actions are indeed louder than words, and sought vendetta at all costs.
Why did Saya leave Brian?
Saya’s son died on the same day when her husband was sent to the hospital for the treatment of a fatal wound on his neck. The woman faced two tragedies on the same day and didn’t get the time to grieve for either. Still, she supported her husband. Brian, blinded by the urge of revenge, failed to notice what Saya was going through. She needed him to hold her so that the couple could bring themselves back on track, but Brian refused to let go of the past. When he came home, he locked himself in the garage and drank day and night to find an escape from the tragedy. Saya needed him, but Brian wasn’t emotionally available. She understood his plight but expected some support from him. And when the man really came to his senses, he channeled all his energy toward seeking revenge instead of looking after “what remained.”
In the world of Silent Night, Brian and Saya are two completely different people. The woman was a painter and ultimately found her escape in her art. She was a Mexican in a white country and married to a white husband. It could be surmised that Saya had her own struggles in the past, while Brian came from a privileged background. I still cannot understand why Brian’s parents never paid a visit to the family after their grandson’s death. Nevertheless, Saya was a survivor and probably had seen worse in life. I am not saying she wasn’t remorseful, but for the weaker ones, it is always easier to drift towards seeking revenge than deal with a loss more sensibly. Saya was indeed the sensible one, which is why, when she realized that their marriage had hit a dead end, she didn’t waste a moment packing her bags and moving out of the haunted house. For Brian, however, it was a relief, as the man was free to do as he willed. There wasn’t anyone left in the world to stop Brian from exacting revenge on his worst nemesis.
How did Brian kill Playa?
Brian had visited Detective Dennis Vassel to seek justice for his son in a lawful manner. However, the man quickly had a change of heart as he realized that the authorities were as inefficient as ever. He gave himself a year’s time to prepare to face his nemesis and kill them all before Christmas night ends. It was probably the father’s Christmas present for his dead son, and Brian didn’t leave a stone unturned to finish what he had started. All through these months, he prepared himself mentally, physically, and emotionally while tracking down Playa’s locations and all his important hideouts. He even shared these details with Detective Dennis, believing the man would be able to do something if Brian’s violent rodeo failed for some reason. Dennis, on the other hand, felt guilty for not being able to help a grieving father and decided to visit Playa’s safehouse, the S & Z Glass & Paint building, all alone. It was a foolish move, but what could he have done? It was Christmas Eve, and he wanted to give other officers rest.
During Silent Night’s ending, Brian, stuffed with shotguns, a military knife, a pistol, and enough bullets, infiltrated Playa’s safehouse in order to kill him in the most merciless way possible. In the end, he came across Playa’s main room, decorated especially for Christmas Eve, in order to turn the floor red with a vengeance. When he faced his son’s killer, Playa rained bullets on the crazy man who had killed his entire gang single-handedly. For a moment, Brian felt that he wouldn’t be able to seek revenge for his son, but Dennis finally shot Playa in the shoulder, which gave Brian the chance to suffocate his nemesis to death. In the concluding moments, the father saw his son’s reflection in one of the hanging lights, where Brian imagined Taylor’s life from his birth to a future he would never get. In his imagination, Brian drowned himself in a possibility where his son would be opening the Christmas present that he had brought for him if he hadn’t been shot on that fateful day. He also saw Taylor graduating from college, implying that in those moments, Brian envisioned all those memories he wanted to create as a father but wouldn’t be able to because of some punks on the street who go around selling drugs and shooting guns. Brian, the father, may have killed one perpetrator, but there are millions still out there roaming on every street and corner because of whom innocent civilians lost their loved ones. Who would stop them?
Will Brian and Dennis survive?
In the end, Playa emptied the entire magazine of two pistols on Brian, and even though he had a clumsy bulletproof jacket on his body, it was difficult for him to survive this time. We saw Brian surviving a fatal bullet wound at the beginning of the film, but those were different times. The Brian that we saw at the end of the film didn’t want to live in a world without Taylor and, therefore, had given up his will to live anymore. It’s safe to assume that Brian would succumb to his bullet wounds, and Saya would arrange a grave for the dead father near his son’s grave so that Brian could be with Taylor in the afterlife. Saya, on the other hand, had already moved on in life, and even though she would never forget the scar that the tragedy had left, I am hopeful that she would find a partner to restart her life. If not, perhaps her art will bring her comfort.
Speaking of Dennis, his bullet wounds imply that he would survive somehow. The detective will, from hereon, spend the rest of his days bringing down the criminals who terrorize the whole town. Brian had already shared with him the intel about the gang’s secret safehouses and their channels. With the help of this information, Dennis would be able to bust every single one of these to bring law and order to Las Palomas. Dennis’ guilt wouldn’t let him sit peacefully until he made the town safe for civilians once again. Even in his worst nightmare, he wouldn’t let any other father lose a son.