Mel Gibson Plays a Gritty Santa Claus in a Christmas Film from Hell

Brace for this: “Fatman” is a Christmas-themed comic thriller starring Mel Gibson as a gritty, despondent, cash-strapped Chris Cringle who — at the top of the holiday break period — has to negotiate a hostile takeover from the U.S. armed forces although fending off a hellbent assassin (Walton Goggins) hired by some bratty rich child who’s pissed off that he acquired coal in his stocking the preceding 12 months. It’s 100 minutes very long, it  End of assessment.

Severely, what else is there to say? Either you want to see a motion picture known as “Fatman” that paints Santa Claus — performed by the residing embodiment of holiday break cheer himself — as a moody Boomer who bemoans the excellent previous days and sporting activities a bushy grey bearded glance that can only be described as “Blood Father Christmas” … or you really do not. The most gracious and open-minded reaction this yuletide aberration is the acknowledgement that there has to be a self-picking out audience out there for it someplace.

This Jewish critic may well not enjoy that far more Xmas movies occur out in a supplied week than the selection of Hanukkah flicks that have ever been made (we have obtained “8 Nuts Nights,” the finish credits of “Call Me by Your Identify,” and which is about it), but you simply cannot argue with supply and demand. And at that charge, it is no wonder persons are starting to scrape the bottom of the sleigh for new thoughts. 3 yrs back, Michael Shannon starred in a Bigfoot-themed “It’s a Great Life” homage and nobody blinked an eye it was only a issue of time before “Fatman” squeezed its way down the chimney.

Nevertheless, it is less difficult to visualize that an individual would really want to see this factor if it was devoid of its inert pacing, half-assed sense of humor, and the delusional sincerity with which it tries to tackle a imprecise array of social ills. But Xmas is apparently about wanting out for other persons, and so in that spirit — together with a pinch of skilled obligation — it is value insisting that even “Hacksaw Ridge” superfans who feel that “Elf” was a couple execution-design and style killings absent from a traditional are going to lose interest in “Fatman” extensive right before Santa has intercourse with Mrs. Claus in order to tranquil his nerves just before the big Noel (she’s played by the terrific Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and that scene is really sweet plenty of).

A longtime enthusiasm project for even for a longer time time brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms — whose 2017 John Hawkes thriller “Small Town Crime” was much much too robust to foresee these types of a extreme miscalculation — “Fatman” may seem like the title of a turned down “Mega Man” villain, but the title derives from what a spoiled 12-calendar year-previous named Billy Wenan phone calls Santa soon after discovering himself on the naughty checklist one particular Xmas. Billy (an expertly noxious Probability Hurstfield), who life with his grandmother, spends his no cost time creating daily life miserable for his maids and threatening to torture the woman at school who finishes in advance of him at the science honest. And we’re chatting literal, demonic, War on Terror-degree torturing from a kid so entitled that he even now predicted to get offers from St. Nick.

But minor Billy doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, so it helps that he has a deal killer on velocity dial for some explanation. That would be the Skinny Man (a quite dedicated Goggins, striving so hard to will this into a superior movie that you can see the veins bulging on his brow in each and every frame). How does a pre-pubescent twerp retain the services of a hitman who’s far more than happy to do his bidding? The solution is possibly “the Internet,” but that these kinds of a issue goes unanswered demonstrates this movie’s disheartening connection with reality.

Santa exists, but Chris Cringle is a real man with actual problems — problems that are only likely to get even worse when Billy commissions Skinny Gentleman to trudge up to “North Peak” and kill him. He’s been alive for centuries and loathes consumerism, and nonetheless he’s legibly American in just about every respect his workshop is a company entity that’s subsidized by the Pentagon’s armed service spending budget, but he can no for a longer period find the money for to pay out his employee elves because the nation’s young ones have gotten also naughty and the government is threatening to slash his subsidy. “We’re a business enterprise,” Chris growls, “and altruism is not a deductible on their bottom line” (a common line of dialogue in a film that peaks with Santa Claus phoning an unseen business magnate named “Elon” — hmm! — to complain about outsourcing).

It may well have been pleasurable if “Fatman” had built good on such anti-capitalist overtures, but no matter what political messaging as soon as impressed the Nelms’ to arrive up with this story has been sanded down into uncomplicated platitudes on its way to the display screen. In a maddeningly repetitive film that spends every other scene observing Goggins interrogate and then murder 1 of the hapless postal staff/potential witnesses who aids him stick to the mail up to North Peak, there just is not any time to explain how Gen Z is so much even worse than any of the little ones who came prior to them, or what built them that way. Was it TikTok? Was it Trump? Was it staying raised in a lopsided overall economy that doesn’t reward decency or really hard perform? “Fatman” is as well busy refashioning Santa into a Logan-esque superhero to care about such matters. All that matters is that Chris has lost religion in the magic of his individual holiday break, and he’s far too boozed up on bourbon to leverage that he’s singlehandedly keeping the coal sector alive in this nation. Hey Santa, probably it is time to give naughty youngsters minor solar panels as an alternative?

There is one thing most likely fun to the thought of Santa getting the greatest Scrooge of all, but “Fatman” never finds what that might be. Instead, the film charts the most tedious route it can come across up to North Peak even though letting a host of ultra-basic abandonment issues percolate in the background. There’s a dormant warmth to the scenes in between Chris and his spouse, but not a one minute of this sluggish movie sparks any serious pleasure from its take on “badass” Santa, or his duel of the fates with the sociopathic assassin heading his way.

Goggins leans all the way into every single beat — slinking his way across the monitor like a starvation-mad hyena whether he’s pissing in the snow outside the house an Arby’s or threatening to electrocute a pre-teen girl with a auto battery — but there is just nothing there for him to participate in, and the Skinny Person finally feels even thinner than his name would propose. You know matters have absent off the rails when a comic genius yelling “Santa Claus, motherfucker!” doesn’t encourage even a trace of holiday cheer. And Mel Gibson as a fallen saint who rediscovers the pleasure he brings to the earth? The toughest of passes.

“Fatman” wants to present us that we’re on the incorrect track, and that likely back to the way factors used to be is our very best possibility to rediscover the true which means of Christmas. But this bland stab at seasonal amusement is way too enamored by its very own edgy revisionism to deliver on that promise, and just after the 2020 that we’ve been acquiring, everyone — younger, aged, Christian, and not — warrants some thing far better in their stocking this 12 months.

Grade: D

Saban Films will launch “Fatman” in theaters on Friday, November 13. It will be offered on VOD on Tuesday, November 24.

As new films open up in theaters all through the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will proceed to evaluate them every time doable. We encourage audience to comply with the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Also, our coverage will supply alternate viewing solutions each time they are obtainable.

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