By Rob Goodwin
Due to COVID many of this year’s big releases have been consistently pushed back, meaning that I have rarely been truly excited to see a specific film this year.
That all changed though when the trailer for ‘Fatman’ was released.
That, on top of reading the one sentence synopsis, got me seriously jazzed to see this flick.
“Santa Claus must contend with a hitman sent from a disappointed child.”
That alone told me I must see this film. I mean how can you honestly turn down such an opportunity for absurdity?
However even with this in mind I have to say I wasn’t expecting much in the way of quality storytelling.
I am happy to report I was dead wrong, this a pretty good film!
As ridiculous as it sounds on paper, there is some quality filmmaking on display and though the story isn’t going to win any Oscars I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The plot is as above, with Mel Gibson inhabiting the jaded Chris Cringle, aka Santa Claus.
On top of that, the workshop is haemorrhaging money and in order to stay afloat Chris must make a deal with the U.S military to survive.
It’s an interesting subplot that is used to explore how the workshop and elves fit in, though provides little actual tension past the financial difficulties.
I’m really here for the assassin, played by a personal favourite Walton Goggins, who we discover has something of an axe to grind with Santa.
It adds skin to the game when he is hired by a frankly psychotic child named Billy (Chance Hurstfield).
Billy is furious when Santa delivers him coal on Christmas morning, though considering what Billy gets up to in his spare time I’m surprised he could possibly think there would be a different result.
Gibson holds the film as Santa and is a casting masterstroke.
The script called for a well-meaning but weary public servant beaten down by what he sees as the constant decay of society.
Few older actors have Gibson’s ability to switch from charming to frighteningly intimidating on a dime, and it proves perfect for the role. Plus, he really rocks the grey beard.
Goggins too is well cast, though he has played several dangerous psychopaths through the years, so he was somewhat at home.
Honestly though, what I really loved was the set design and props.
A good film doesn’t need to be bogged down by exposition, it uses a character’s clothes, possessions and setting to explain their motivations and personality instead.
There is a fantastic amount of detail in the background of this films that informs the watcher exactly who each character is and that leaves more screen-time for the story.
Eshon and Ian Nelms, who wrote and directed the film, clearly put a ton of effort into building every shot.
I was also surprised at how funny the film is. There are very few jokes, but most of the laughs simply come from the fact that entire film is played completely straight, despite the absurd content matter.
To this end serious scenes are inherently funny, just because they involve Santa Claus, and everyone seems to be at home with that fact.
A cult Christmas film in the making, this is a great way to fill an hour or so each silly season, though I wouldn’t show the kids
BGH rating: 6.5/8