Written and directed by brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms, Fatman is an action comedy film that tells the story of a gritty Santa Claus who is being hunted by an assassin hired by a disgruntled child who received a lump of coal on Christmas morning.
Chris Cringle also known as Santa Claus (Mel Gibson) is struggling to make ends meet so he reluctantly enters into a partnership with the U.S Military to use his workshop to earn some extra money, and if that isn’t bad enough, spoilt rich kid Billy Winen (Chance Hurstfield) is upset with Santa Claus because he received a lump of coal on Christmas Day, so he hires a deadly assassin only known by the name of ‘Skinny Man’ (Walton Goggins) who also has his own personal score to settle with Santa Claus.
First of all, I never thought in my wildest dreams that a gritty Christmas film about a gun-toting, binge drinking Santa Claus would work, but somehow it does. I think this is probably because Fatman doesn’t take itself too seriously and contains the right balance of violence and humour, that it is never in danger of going over the top. I was also impressed to see a film about a Santa Claus that you can relate to. Rather than the magical jolly man in the red suit, we have a Santa Claus that has debts to pay and a business that he has to run, which I thought was a different and original take on the Santa Claus character. As the film is set at Christmas, it is snowing, which I think fits the gritty nature of the film by the way that snow is shown – windy and turbulent, which made me not only feel cold during my viewing, but I felt this scene setting was particularly clever.
It might not seem like the right match, but I enjoyed Mel Gibson as Santa Claus. This version of Santa is a bitter old man who is down on his luck but will do anything to keep his business running. I think Mel Gibson was able to portray a Santa that is defeated and about to give up on life but has been given a chance to keep his head above water. As much as I enjoyed Mel Gibson‘s performance though, I have to say that the real star is Walton Goggins as Skinny Man. He plays an excellent villain and is able to appear intense yet funny at the same time. As an example of this is during one scene where he is interrogating a hostage and is telling the hostage to write things down, but to do so in handwriting that is legible.
Fatman may not be a film that will be considered a classic, but I do believe that it will develop a cult following in the years to come. If you are the sort of person that considers Die Hard or Lethal Weapon as Christmas movies, or if you are just after an alternative to the usual family Christmas films, then Fatman might just be the new film that you are looking for.
Fatman is set for a limited release in Australian Cinemas from November 19th (Victoria TBA).