25th Nov2020

‘Fatman’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield | Written and Directed by Ian Nelms, Eshom Nelms

I’ll be honest, if you said that I am not exactly a huge fan of Christmas movies you would be absolutely correct; with the few that I do like not exactly being your typical movies. I thought Bad Santa was decent and I like Jingle All The Way a lot but for the most part I’m not that fussed.

That was until 2020 came around and among all the real life crap this year threw at us, a trailer dropped for a new movie starring the criminally underrated and under-utilised Walton Goggins. I mean seriously how is this guy not in bloody everything? Even Marvel hires him for Ant-Man and the Wasp only to bury his role but the dude is insanely good. This trailer also featured what looked to be a Mel Gibson who wasn’t phoning it in, playing the big man himself Santa Claus! Who knew it would take a Christmas movie to see Mel Gibson give a crap about a movie he was in again?

The movie is Fatman and it’s a Christmas movie like no other…

It truly is a tale as old as time itself! Billy Wenan (Hurstfield) is a spoilt little brat who actually hires hitmen to convince his classmates to give him the first place ribbon for school projects. Safe to say he is a bit of a turd and therefore this year has made the naughty list. After receiving a lump of coal on Christmas morning he decides to hire Johnathon Miller (Walton Goggins) a hitman who harbors his own ill feelings towards the “Fatman”. Unaware of this nefarious plot Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson) is dealing with the fact that he may need to take on some government contracts just to make ends meet in the off season. Will things work out for the “Fatman” or will “Skinny Man” get years worth of pent revenge rage out this day in what I think could be one of my favorite Christmas movies to date.

Straight away I could tell this movie was going to be something worth paying attention to because somehow these directors had convinced Mel Gibson to actually put in a decent performance! Seriously this is like a peak Gibson, obviously a bit older but he still has it. I genuinely loved this performance as a cranky Santa, he embodies the grumpy old man role really well and let’s be honest this role could have easily been phoned in and pretty much everyone would have accepted it. I really liked his chemistry with Marianne Jean-Baptiste too, they are really good together and kinda made me want to have that relationship with my missus when we get that old.

Then there’s Walton Goggins. A man whose career absolutely frustrates the life out of me. It’s the Sam Rockwell effect, both amazing actors with spot on performances but few directors seem to know how to use them. Case in point Marvel movies… Both Rockwell and Goggins (Iron Man 2 and Ant Man 2 respectively) WASTED. Here though he his having the time of his life with a funny poignant and interesting script. It seems like the bulk of what he is doing is on the fly and they just let him perform; which is when you will get the best version of that character. Think about it… This is a hitman hired by a kid who wants to kill Santa Claus and Goggins goes about this with 100% conviction in the surrealist way possible and not once was I removed from the story.

The Nelms Brothers have done a great job with Fatman – in the way they play it serious in a very real world and every now and then throwing a hint of magic and mysticism your way. However instead of trying to explain it away they are saying “Just because, deal with it”. I loved the idea of Santa having shots taken at him over the years, the fact he has a government contract for delivering presents and uses the actual postal service. All these things totally ground the premise and make it seem like maybe he is just an awesome toy maker who loves Christmas. Then you throw in the reindeer, the sleigh, the fact he can read minds and knows more about you than you do, oh and his underground workshop full of “elves”.

I have to admit when I first saw this movie was coming I rolled my eyes, I saw the trailer and said “No thank you” but as always I love when a movie proves me wrong and Fatman did this with a wonderful script that didn’t take itself too serious; with had some real feel-good laughs; a very, very strong cast, who all knew what they were making and played their roles as such. The exchange between young Chance Hurstfield and Walton Goggins about bringing a trophy back is up there for me as one of the best.

**** 4/5

It’s a surprisingly strong recommend from me. Get Fatman watched this Christmas!

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