Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, Fatman, Fatman, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Shaun Benson, Paulino Nunes, Chance Hurstfield, Michelle Lang, Deborah Grover, Bill Turnbull, Michael Dickson, Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms, Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Thriller film rating

FATMAN

★★

MEH-RRY CHRISTMAS

THEATRICAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
15th November 2020

With their new film 'Fatman', directors Eshom and Ian Nelms have pulled off an interesting, frustrating bait-and-switch, employing elements of a crazy would-be cult movie in service of what's really, at heart, a sober personal melodrama. The gambit doesn't really work, but it's hard not to respect their attempt to do something different in time for Christmas.

Wealthy brat Billy (Chance Hurstfield, 'Good Boys') hires an assassin known as the Skinny Man (Walton Goggins, 'Ant-Man and the Wasp', 'Tomb Raider') to menace a classmate who won a science fair prize that Billy thought was rightfully his. When Billy's nasty shenanigans earn him a lump of coal from Santa Claus (Mel Gibson, 'Hacksaw Ridge'), the sociopathic sprog tasks the Skinny Man - who is nursing his own Yuletide grudge - to track down Father Christmas, who is anything but jolly.

'FATMAN' TRAILER

It's a plot that may have been beamed in from the same bizarro dimension as Don Coscarelli's quietly cherishable 2002 romp 'Bubba Ho-Tep', in which a nursing-home Elvis and a black JFK teamed up to see off a rampaging Egyptian mummy, or Robert D. Krzykowski's self-explanatory 'The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot'.

At first, 'Fatman' looks like a vehicle for Mel Gibson to kick some righteous arse, with the audience being introduced to a relatively-svelte Chris Cringle as he shoots a pistol at some bottles and cans perched on the fence surrounding his Alaskan farmhouse. "You think I got this job because I'm fat and jolly?", he rasps. Unfortunately, he also spends a lot of time griping over his economic circumstances: with so many kids misbehaving, he is delivering fewer presents, which, in turn, cuts into the subsidy he gets from the U.S. government. To break even this year, he has to bring the elves back to work on a military contract, making parts for fighter jets. Santa and his wife Ruth (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, 'Peter Rabbit', 'In Fabric') - not to mention the elves - are presented as hard-working, blue-collar people. Chris does, however, have the ability to recall someone's entire history by looking at them and has a 'Logan'-style healing factor.

Neither part of the film, the hunt nor the Ken Loach-esque drama in Alaska, proves satisfying. The comedy isn't sharp, and the shoot-'em-up action scenes lack verve and imagination.

Without ever seeming to strain, Gibson sketches out the lifetime's worth of regrets which weigh on this character's mind; he crafts an easy bond with Jean-Baptiste, summons barely concealed disgust for Goggins when the assassin shows up with an assault rifle and a bone to pick; and more generally plays the hokum required to keep this story moving with the exact same conviction as he did in, say, 'Dragged Across Concrete'. Like Wyatt Earp or Jesse James, Santa has lived long enough to see his checkered past transformed into tall tales; in another smart link to Western tradition, he's confronted by the Skinny Man with a toy car, just like Henry Fonda is presented with Charles Bronson's harmonica in Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West'.

Sadly, that makes 'Fatman' sound more compelling (at least to those who enjoy having their expectations upturned) than it actually is. Neither part of the film, the hunt nor the Ken Loach-esque drama in Alaska, proves satisfying. The comedy isn't sharp, and the shoot-'em-up action scenes lack verve and imagination. It doesn't commit to being a camp spectacle or an introspective character piece. What the directors clearly care about is Santa's romance and his lingering heartbreak over the state of the world, but even the charm of that relationship isn't enough to adrenalise the film, which suffers from laboured pacing, with at least a couple of early sequences seeming to take forever to get to their point. They don't appear to have consistently prioritised visual or narrative dynamism, nor a single cinematic style or message when they made this film.

Eshom and Ian Nelms' offbeat ambition makes them people to keep an eye on, but their plodding execution still needs some work. 'Fatman' could have been the 'Unforgiven' of Christmas cinema, unfortunately, it feels like the product of a pair of busy but unfocused imaginations.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 19/11/2020
RUN TIME: 1h 40m
CAST: Mel Gibson
Walton Goggins
Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Shaun Benson
Paulino Nunes
Chance Hurstfield
Michelle Lang
Deborah Grover
Bill Turnbull
Michael Dickson
WRITER/DIRECTORS: Eshom Nelms
Ian Nelms
PRODUCERS: Michelle Misty Lang
Lisa Wolofsky
Robert Menzies
Nadine De Barros
Todd Courtney
SCORE: Mondo Boys
FatmanMovie
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Umbrella Home Entertainment Prize Pack - Get copies of Gunda, King Otto and Relic to enjoy at home!
TRENDINGWIN UMBRELLA HOME ENTERTAINMENT PRIZE PACKGet copies of Gunda, King Otto and Relic to enjoy at home!
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
The Keeper - The true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
TRENDINGTHE KEEPERThe true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
Jungle Cruise - Sailing into a new Disney classic adventure
TRENDINGJUNGLE CRUISESailing into a new Disney classic adventure
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Suicide Squad - A woefully dull and incomprehensible mess
TRENDINGSUICIDE SQUADA woefully dull and incomprehensible mess
The Princess Diaries - 20 years since Genovia found its princess
TRENDINGTHE PRINCESS DIARIES20 years since Genovia found its princess
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Matilda - Revolting children for 25 years
TRENDINGMATILDARevolting children for 25 years
Golden Voices - Immigration struggles with amusing challenges
TRENDINGGOLDEN VOICESImmigration struggles with amusing challenges
Boxing Day Movies 2020 - The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
TRENDINGBOXING DAY MOVIES 2020The year's biggest films bursting onto cinema screens
Fanny Lye Deliver'd - Feminist folk horror
TRENDINGFANNY LYE DELIVER'DFeminist folk horror
The Last Horns of Africa - The danger, the heartache and the importance of saving the Rhinos
TRENDINGTHE LAST HORNS OF AFRICAThe danger, the heartache and the importance of saving the Rhinos
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series - Sketches at a revolution
TRENDINGMONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS: THE COMPLETE SERIESSketches at a revolution
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Aiyai: Wrathful Soul - Ambitious but unfocused Aussie horror
TRENDINGAIYAI: WRATHFUL SOULAmbitious but unfocused Aussie horror
Midsommar: The Director's Cut - Ari Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
TRENDINGMIDSOMMAR: THE DIRECTOR'S CUTAri Aster elevates an already remarkable film to a masterpiece
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!