Go ahead, say what you will about Mel Gibson as a person. I’m willing to look past all of that and focus on one thing and one thing only. The man is a fantastic actor and my god does he bring his A game here.
With a plot as silly as this, you really don’t expect the intensity he brings to this role.
He’s essentially playing a burnt out farmer, getting pinched by the government and you feel his agitation and his exhaustion.
He’s angry yet frustrated because he wants nothing more than to deliver a good product, making children’s dreams come true.
But with monetization, capitalization, corporatization, you name it, it has drained him of all joy and happiness.
All of that sucks until you realize he isn’t a farmer but fucking Santa Claus, making things not only worse but much much weirder.
At times while watching this movie, I had no idea how I should be feeling. You have such a weird plot, a plot that almost seems like a third season to that quickly canceled SyFy Channel series Happy!.
But unlike that show, which is pretty tongue in cheek, everyone in Fatman is playing it completely serious, without a hint of humor or eye winking.
To Mel Gibson and his oppisite Walter Goggins, this might as well be a Martin Scorsese film they’re in.
It’s like they didn’t get the memo that it’s about an assassin after Santa.
Which segues into the plot.
It’s Christmas time and Santa or as they call him in the film, Chris, is struggling with his family business of making toys for little boys and girls on his farm.
The government pays him for his business but every year that government check keeps getting smaller and smaller thanks to corporations doing what he does, but better and faster.
He has an understanding wife named Ruth and a whole barn full of elves he employs at his workshop. Like any job, they all need compensation. And it looks like this year things are going to be extremely tight.
The other side of this story, we have the child’s point of view, except this child is more or less an evil little shit.
Little shit being Billy.
Billy likes to win. He sees it as a personal insult if he doesn’t. And he expects to win no matter what, even employing a hitman played by Walton Goggins only known as Skinny Man to take out or intimidate those he feels slighted by.
Skinny on the other hand is obsessed with Santa Claus and the presents he has given other kids because when he was just a child, Santa only ever gave him one single gift, that being a toy police matchbox car.
Of course this year Billy receives coal from Santa. And that really sets him off.
Billy is a whiny rich kid with only his wheelchair bound grandmother to look out for him. And by look out for him I mean mostly that role goes to the help which Billy treats like shit.
Billy also steals from his grandmother to help pay for his personal hitman.
So coal was kind considering everything he’s been up to.
Because he feels slighted by Santa, he pays Skinny to kill him.
What follows is Skinny assaulting Santa’s workshop and going postal, letting out years of frustration. He fucks up Santa’s worship, killing so many elves in the process.
And just when you think he’s had enough, he blows up the workshop.
Santa and Skinny finally have their duel…
Skinny actually wins the fight.
Yeah, Santa gets fucked up, even shot in the face. Or to be more exact, shot in the eye.
But seeing as maybe Santa might be immortal… it doesn’t have a lasting effect.
Skinny is eventually taken out not by Santa but by Ruth.
When the dust settles Santa rebuilds his workshop and pays Billy a little visit for sending a hitman after him.
Is this a new Christmas classic? Well, for me absolutely it is. I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching this again later in December when it gets closer to Christmas. And you never know, from every year forward too.
Fatman gets a fat SEE IT!
As a little bonus, I want to now talk about Boss Level, the new action Deadpool inspired film also featuring Mel Gibson.
I say featuring because Mel isn’t the star. He takes on the smaller role playing the main villain, but still I wanted to include it here, only because this film is a blast.
Boss Level was directed by Joe Carnahan, who has done some really decent action films in the past. The Grey being highly underrated in my opinion.
The writers of Boss Level have a less impressive resume, however the one credit they do have is this really exciting film called Open Grave. I highly recommend checking it out. I remember it being almost like a precursor to 28 Days Later.
Boss Level stars Frank Grillo, who I’ve come to really enjoy. Just recently I saw him in Jiu Jitsu, the new straight to video Nic Cage film. Predator meets Mortal Kombat. It actually wasn’t that bad. The fight sequences really saved what would have been another shitty Cage film.
It had one promise and one promise only, to see Nic Cage use martial arts skills against an evil alien. And it fully delivered.
The best way to describe Boss Level is Deadpool meets Groundhog Day.
Frank Grillo plays Roy, a kind of deadbeat ex-military badass that mostly just drinks and screws hot chicks he picks up at the bar.
He was married to Jemma, played by the always lovely Naomi Watts. They share a child who doesn’t know Roy is his father, just an old friend of the family.
Jemma works in a lab, working on a kind of death defying machine. It isn’t a time machine, which I appreciate them doing something original with the whole time loop scenario.
But like I mentioned, Roy finds himself stuck in a time loop where every time he dies, he wakes back up at the start of the day.
That wouldn’t be too concerning if not for the fact he has a group of unrelenting crazy assassins after him.
He’s repeated the same day over and over again so many times, he can pour himself a cup of coffee and fight off a knife wielding hitman with ease.
This film really knows how to start things out, as he isn’t awake for more than a second before he must fight off not only a hitman in his apartment but a helicopter firing a minigun.
If he manages to survive that, he only has more hurdles to jump over. One of those being from his apartment window onto a passing dump truck .
But if you don’t get the timing right and misses the landing… well it’s going to suck. But at the same time is kind of hilarious.
At this point, Roy is on his 140th attempt at survival.
No matter what he does, the hitmen keep finding him and killing him, resetting the day.
Eventually Roy starts to figure things out, like how the hitmen are finding him so easily. They put a tracker in one of his teeth. To figure out which one he has to do some pulling. Thankfully all he has to do is reset.
Once he finds the tracker, he uses it to bait the hitmen, killing them and finding out who hired them to kill him.
They lead him to Jemma’s boss played by Mel Gibson. Who mostly monologues and smokes cigars. This is a major part of the plot that doesn’t make a ton of sense.
The whole setup to the film is very unclear or possibly dumb. Roy goes to the lab looking for a job, but Mel and his goon decide not only to kick him out, but also hire a bunch of assassins after him? What? That’s a bit extreme.
Anyway, Roy learns that Jemma was killed that morning, leaving his son pretty much an orphan since he has no relationship with him other than the casual pop in.
I also love how they use the time loop thing to his advantage, for example…
In a funny bit, Roy has a hard time taking out this master swords woman, so Roy takes some time to train and learn some sword skills before facing her.
Much like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. But instead of learning ice sculpting, he’s learning to sword fight.
But with every “level” he makes it through, new obstacles pop up.
He learns that while he’s out trying to kill Mel Gibson’s character, people have been sent to kill his son.
Now he basically wants to spend time with him and keep him safe until the end comes. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the use of this machine that keeps bringing Roy back to the start of the day is also going to destroy the world.
After the millionth time of watching the world die, Roy learns that Jemma is actually still alive when he wakes up. He has exactly 14 minutes to get to her and save the day.
Good thing he wakes up with a helicopter outside his window.
Using kind of a cheat code, Roy plows through the hitmen with the minigun, saves Jemma and kills the boss.
Now all that is left is stopping the machine from blowing up and ending the world.
If I had any complaints about this film, I think it’s the ending. It’s kind of left open ended, we aren’t really sure what happens to him once he steps inside and stops it.
To me, it kind of seemed like time catches up to him and the years he was trapped in the loop all come at him at once, aging him to god knows how old.
Which is a bit depressing considering everything he went through to get here.
I loved the humor in this, very reminiscent of Deadpool. At one point he’s running around with a sword on his back, so yeah, the similarities are there, clear as day.
The action is fun and over the top. This being a bit of a lower budget film, the SFX aren’t mind blowing, and at times were kind of iffy.
However for the most part they all looked good.
Frank Grillo also did an amazing job as the lead, being able to balance being a badass to a snarky asshole, something Ryan Reynolds can pull off with ease.
It’s crazy to say, but this is the best action I’ve seen this whole year maybe. If you liked Guns Akimbo, really think about checking this one out.
Boss Level gets a SEE IT!
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