Fatman is a jolly good action/thriller/comedy starring Mel Gibson and Walton Goggins. While some of the intended comedic elements did not really hit their marks, the action, plot, and main actors/characters work well enough on their own to create an entertaining thrill ride; so long as the audience does not try to nitpick a film about an assassin hired to kill Santa Claus while Santa is struggling to keep his business afloat with the help of a partnership with the US Government.
Mel Gibson plays Santa Claus/Chris, whom the villains of the film have dubbed “Fat Man” (given that I am roughly 525 pounds, I was not buying Mel Gibson’s portrayal of a “fat” man, but I will let that go). Santa has a problem. He has an arrangement with the US Government to fund his toy making empire, but because the kids of the world have become more spoiled and bad, Santa has been giving more lumps of coal and the US Government cuts his funding. However, another deal is struck for the benefit of the military, which leads to some upgrades and additional security at Santa’s workshop.
But Santa has another problem. One of the spoiled kids that received coal, Billy (Chance Hurstfield; A Million Little Things, Good Boys), is rich, wants Santa dead, and has an assassin on speed dial. The assassin, dubbed “Skinny Man” and played by Walton Goggins (The Unicorn, Forever Young, Cowboys & Aliens), is all too happy to take on the target for reasons that are barely touched on but tragic nonetheless. These “problems” lead to an inevitable showdown between the two leads once the assassin somehow makes his way through the US military that is guarding Santa’s workshop.
In my opinion, this film, especially the climax, is reminiscent of The Night the Reindeer Died (the fake movie trailer from the beginning of Scrooged) except that the characters of Lee Majors and the attackers have switched sides making it slightly more fantastical. The story in Fatman is an interesting twist on the classic Santa Clause mythology and the social commentary (about kids being worse than ever – leading to worse adults) is a nice discussion-worthy plot thread. Gibson and Goggins do a fairly good job giving a third dimension to what could be flat two-dimensional characters.
In select theaters November 13
On Demand and on Digital November 24