Director: Eshom Nelms & Ian Nelms
Starring: Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield
Run Time: 100 mins
Fatman is an adult dark comedy infused with some violent action sequences starring Mel Gibson as an unorthodox Santa Claus. Whilst this sounds like an outlandish concept, the trailer really pulled off the concept of this perverted and hyperviolent Christmas film with glee. Fatman is directed by brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms, both of whom have made very low profile films to date. On Christmas Eve, a mature yet spoiled 12-year-old called Billy receives a lump of coal from Santa and in retalliation, Billy hires a hitman, Jonathan Miller (Walton Goggins) to take out the festive icon. But does Fatman’s high concept translate as well as it does in theory to a feature length film?
Fatman is generally a success and the film has a lot more heart than its trailer suggests. It is always entertaining and for its budget, has surprisingly high quality production values. That said, the tone of the film doesn’t quite gel and the film isn’t quite as deviant as it should be. Although the film carries a 15 rating, its violence is also surprisingly toothless. The film also has some valuable commentary on Christmas which is surprising and there is emotional heft in the interplay between its characters.
Gibson is very well cast and carries the baggage of his world-weariness extremely convincingly. He is well supported by Marianne Jean-Baptiste as his wife and Walton Goggins as the hitman tasked to assassinate Santa, who both put in solid performances. Chance Hurstfield as the twisted pre-teen Billy is excellent – an early scene where he takes revenge on one of his peers for beating him in a competition is carried out with twisted, sadistic glee.
Overall, Fatman is successful for what it is even if it doesn’t quite have the guts to turn the tone up to eleven like it seemed to promise. This is a sound and original Christmas film and is far better than it has any right to be and is only further elevated by the strong performances. It will be interesting to see where the directorial duo go next but Fatman proves they have talent and can conjure wholly original concepts.