Directed by: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Written by: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Starring: Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield, Paulino Nunes, Shaun Benson
Released: November 19, 2020
Grade: C+


Fatman is a Christmas-themed movie that asks an interesting question – who funds Santa Claus?  He needs a ridiculously large warehouse to produce all the presents and his employee costs would be substantive given all the elves on the payroll (assuming they pay at least a minimum wage).  Let’s not forget overheads such as utilities, insurance and legal fees.  Do taxes come into play?

As we learn in the opening scenes of Fatman, our beloved Santa (played by Mel Gibson) is in financial strife.  He’s heavily subsidised by the U.S. Government (they pay him an annual operating grant to make gifts) but it’s not enough to cover his costs and his debts are mounting up.  Suffice to say he’s not happy.  Given the economic stimulus that Christmas provides each year, Santa think he’s undervalued by the government and the taxpayer.

With few other options available, Santa diversifies his operations and becomes a military contractor!  During the off-season, when the elves aren’t required to make presents, they’ll instead be assembling control panels for fighter jets.  So when little Timmy or Jenny get a new bike under the Christmas tree on December 25, it’s likely been made by the same group who helped build the air force jets flying above Syria.

This sounds like a fun concept but unfortunately, Fatman never fully delivers because it focuses more on its not-so-exciting subplots.  A rich kid, Billy (Hurstfield), is given a lump of coal in his stocking (he’s been naughty instead of nice) and so he’s hired an incompetent hitman (Goggins) to kill Santa.  Much of the film is then spent following the hitman as his stumbles across Northern America trying to locate the famed bearded man.

It’s a boring, tired storyline.  There’s an early sequence where the hitman kidnaps one of Billy’s classmates because of a dispute over a school science contest.  It’s clumsy and nonsensical.  We then get repetitive scenes where the hitman tries to find Santa’s address (which shouldn’t be that hard given everyone else seems to know) and then sloppily kills people (with no one raising any alarms).

Mel Gibson isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of actors destined to play Santa Claus but he’s a worthy choice in that he plays the character as a depressed, forlorn drunk who believes he’s lost relevance.  There are also some nice exchanges where he opens up with his smart, level-headed wife (Jean-Baptiste).

In the same vein as Bad Santa, it’s important to note this isn’t a family film and it’s deservedly rated MA in Australia for its “strong violence”.  The action packed finale (which takes itself far too seriously) is proof of that.  Fatman is trying to offer dark humour but the end result is subpar.