Jolly ole Saint Nick receives a different spin in Saban Films, Fatman from directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms. To save his declining business, Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson), also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military. Making matters worse, Chris gets locked into a deadly battle of wits against a highly-skilled assassin known as the Skinny Man (Walton Goggins). The contract killer was hired by a precocious 12-year-old named Billy (Chance Hurstfield) after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking.
Mel Gibson’s acting career has been in a rut since his 2006 incident. For the most part, I watched his movies for the sake of nostalgia; however, his directorial efforts never lost a step. The story of Fatman could’ve served as Gibson’s comeback; sadly, it’s the actor’s second stinker of 2020. Granted, Gibson does what he can in the role of portraying Father Christmas as a boomer yearning for the joyful days of yesteryear.
I will give co-directors directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms. They also wrote the script, credit for not making Gibson disgruntled. Instead, they give his character a purpose. Chris is a man who is down on his luck but still wants to bring joy to the world. The script’s angle for Chris’s partnership with the U.S. military is believable during the tough financial times many are facing in the year 2020. I also enjoyed Gibson’s chemistry with his wife, Marianne Jean-Baptist, and his elves.
Outside of Skinny Man (Walton Goggins) and Billy (Chance Hurstfield), no one else has any character arcs. Goggins does fine in the role, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen from the character actor before. Not to mention Novice movie fans will figure out the Skinny Man’s vendetta toward Chris quite quickly. I get the sense that the director’s script wanted to paint the Skinny Man as emotionless, but it just doesn’t land for me. On the flip side, Chance Hurstfield Billy is just a demented individual. I had an issue with a twelve-year-old, having a contract killer on speed dial. The young actor does portray spoiled quite well, and I will give credit where it’s due.
The potential is there for Fatman, but Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms script just doesn’t deliver on its premise. Action junkies hoping to see Mel bust chops will be disappointed until the film’s climax. At the same time, Christmas movie purists are sure to be turned off by the film’s gritty and dark mood. Serving as the third Christmas movie I’ve reviewed in November, Fatman was the one I was looking forward to the most. Sadly with a weak script and off-putting pace, Fatman ends up an unwanted Christmas present.
Final Grade D+
Fatman opens in select theaters November 13 and will be available On Demand and on Digital November 17