January 18, 2021
Street Date 1/26/21;
Box Office $0.28 million;
$19.99 DVD, $22.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for bloody violence, and language.
Stars Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield, Robert Bockstael, Eric Woolfe, Susanne Sutchy, Deborah Grover.
The idea at the center of Fatman hints at a fun deconstruction of a Christmas movie — a kid upset with his gift hires a hitman to kill Santa Claus. However, the premise turns out to be more intriguing than the execution.
Mel Gibson stars as Chris Cringle, who is presented as the gruff, put-upon chairman of the Christmas workshop whose business is declining every year due to children becoming less enthralled by the magic of the holidays. The workshop gets paid by the U.S. government based on the number of presents delivered, but as Cringle explains, more and more children are being naughty every year, and per the rules of his existence are eligible to receive only coal.
One such child is a spoiled rich kid named Billy (Chance Hurstfield) who tortures his classmates into dropping out of the school science fair so he can win. He is so incensed by receiving a lump of coal that he steals $25,000 from his grandmother to send an assassin played by Walton Goggins to kill Cringle.
In a twist, the killer has his own beef with Santa over crappy childhood Christmases, and has been amassing a collection of toys that seem to have come from the workshop.
Meanwhile, to make ends meet, Cringle takes on another contract with the U.S. government, this time outsourcing the workshop’s elves to make military hardware.
A modernist take on Santa that is somewhere between Elf and Die Hard by way of No Country for Old Men, the film offers some clever takes on the Santa myth, such as when Cringle returns from his Christmas deliveries and reveals a gunshot wound he has to patch up, the result of an increasingly violent society mistaking his sleigh as hostile. Gibson is certainly a non-traditional Santa, eschewing the jolly red suit for antacid tablets and shots of whiskey to get by in the harsh winters, and using his knowledge of the naughty list to shame men into not cheating on their wives.
The film’s absurdist quality makes it passable as a curio, though its leisurely pacing and sparse action make it seem to drag on a lot longer than its 99 minutes.
Among the Blu-ray extras is a nice commentary track with Mel Gibson, directors Eshom and Ian Nelms, producer Michelle Land, and cinematographer Johnny Derango, that gives a good idea of the flavor the filmmakers were after.
Also included are two storyboard-to-film comparisons of key scenes, running a total of 10 minutes.
Finally, the Blu-ray offers six deleted scenes running nine minutes total with optional commentary by the filmmakers.