The US government fakes hurricanes

Criticism from the FILMSTARTS editorial team

No Country For Old Santas

By Christoph Petersen
The premise is really ingenious: After a little boy has only got a piece of coal for Christmas, the spoiled brat hires a contract killer to personally kill Santa Claus. Certainly there are countless films that have nothing to offer apart from a single good idea - but "Fatman“Fortunately, it is not one of them!

The grotesque thriller by Ian and Eshom Nelms ("Small Town Crime") finally has a completely different tone than one would actually expect from the pleasantly absurd-sounding description. Ultimately, “Fatman” is mainly reminiscent of the early works of the Coen brothers from “Blood Simple” to “Fargo” - just with a Christmassy satirical touch.

Walton Goggins opens the hunt for Santa Claus as a nameless contract killer ...


Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield), despite his young years, rules the house staff with an iron hand - and if he doesn't get what he wants, he simply forges his grandmother's signature on a check to get an unnamed hit man (Walton Goggins). So it's no wonder that the twelve-year-old only finds a piece of coal instead of a present under the tree on Christmas morning.

But Billy doesn't just let that sit on himself either - and therefore puts his killer on Santa Claus (Mel Gibson). Meanwhile, however, he has completely different problems: Because there are less and less well-behaved children, the number of gifts delivered is also falling - which is why the US government is now cutting its grants. The only way out of not having to close the elf factory for good is to get a production order from the US military ...


It's virtually impossible to write the plot of "Fatman" in such a way that the summary reflects the film's amazingly grounded tone - the previous two paragraphs undoubtedly sound like a detached action parody somewhere between "John Wick" and the "Santa Claus" trilogy with Tim Allen. But puff cake! “Fatman” is fun - but is still neither fun splatter nor festive fooling around. Instead, fans of films like “No Country For Old Men” or “Killing Them Softly” get their money's worth despite the constant wink.

Even if Billy reenacts the controversial torture scene from “Grand Theft Auto 5” with a kidnapped classmate, because the Schnösel offspring as a four-time defending champion with his “Jugend forscht” project only achieved second place this time, it is not just over- the top blatant, but actually also a little uncomfortable. "Fatman" is not loud and rumbling, but as cool and cynical as its snowy setting. At most, the final showdown is a bit of a disappointment, when it is noticeable that the creators only had a very limited budget.

... but Mel Gibson has also warmed himself up as Santa Claus!


In contrast to some of his action star contemporaries (Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, etc.), Mel Gibson still makes every effort even in smaller (direct-to-VoD) productions - most recently in the not-so-great hurricane gangster film "Force Of Nature". But in “Fatman” you not only feel that he is really up for the role - he also fits perfectly as an increasingly disillusioned Santa Claus who accepts it with stubborn equanimity if he is shot again while delivering the presents. And very important: Mel Gibson wears his real beard as Santa ...

For Walton Goggins, the role as a nameless professional killer with a Christmas present fetish is of course nothing special - he has always shone in roles like this from “Justified” to “The Hateful 8”. But what the heck, he just rocks - also in "Fatman". The child star Chance Hurstfield (“Good Boys”), on the other hand, as a viewer - for twelve years or not - just wants to buff the face from his first appearance. So here too: job done with flying colors!

Conclusion: “Fatman” feels like a cynical, black-humored grotesque thriller in the style of the Coen brothers - just with Santa Claus as the target.

Do you wish to view more reviews?
  • The latest FILMSTARTS reviews
  • The best films of all time: user opinion
  • The best films of all time: press opinion
You might be interested in that too
MOVIE STARTS reviews