Friday 20 November 2020

Fatman (Movie Review)

Christmas movies are typically known for their wholesome qualities. Except every now and then, we get a movie that takes those qualities, and turns the whole thing over on its head. I'm talking about movies like Bad Santa or Black Christmas, movies that explore the darker side of traditional holiday practices. But I doubt if they come any stranger than Fatman, a new holiday-themed action thriller.

In the film, Mel Gibson plays Chris Cringle, or Santa Claus as he is more popularly known. Except his version of Santa Claus is unlike the typical jolly, bearded old man we've all come to know. He still goes around delivering presents on Christmas eve, but he is also a cynical drunk who has lost most of his faith in people and their ability to do good. He also happens to have some serious special ops training.

Having fallen upon tough times in his workshop due to the dwindling number of kids deserving Christmas presents, he is forced to accept a contract from the US government. But after he offends a spoiled rich kid with some shady criminal connections, by gifting him a lump of coal for Christmas, the boy sends a trained assassin (Walton Goggins) after him. 

Fatman is a satirical take on traditional Christmas beliefs. The movie is also part character study, choosing to focus its lens on a Santa Claus that struggles to bear the weight of the declining morality of the children he is supposed to reward or punish every year. And Mel Gibson puts his full weight into the performance, so that the movie never started to feel cheesy or too self-aware.

But even though the movie retains most of the fantastical elements surrounding the Santa Claus legend, none of that is fully explored as it chooses to sidestep most of it with an approach that is more grounded in reality. This could either please or annoy you, but it just makes the movie's scope feel a lot smaller than it really was.

For all of its holiday-inspired ambitions, Fatman still plays like a typical revenge-driven action thriller. The movie is devoid of any kind of Christmas cheer, nor is it funny enough to be considered a true comedy. But it offers an interesting enough spin on Christmas movies that make it worth checking out on the strength of its premise alone.