26 September 2023


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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Directors: Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, Icon Film Distribution, MA 100 Minutes.

In time for the Christmas season, though not necessarily a cheerful holiday movie, comes Mel Gibson playing the part of Chris Cringle (aka Santa) in an action thriller directed by the Nelms’ brothers (‘Wattle Street’).

The story is centred on an unconventional and uninhibited Santa living with his supportive wife Ruth (Marianne Jean-Baptiste – ‘Robocop’) at the North Pole together with his many elves while struggling to survive in the midst of a financial crisis.

In order to maintain their Christmas operation and keep their elves employed Chris is forced to enter into a contract with the US military to make weapons which causes him much grief.

The badass in the story is spoilt rich brat Billy (Chance Hurstfield – ‘Good Boys’) who lives with his sick grandmother and is allowed free reign over the house while his father is away, he uses the opportunity to be constantly cruel to the servants.

The drama begins on Christmas morning after Billy receives a lump of coal in his stocking leading him to hire an assassin, the brutal Skinny Man (Walton Goggins – ‘Tomb Raider’), and instruct him to find and kill Santa.

As he proceeds to the North Pole without any address Skinny Man is forced to go to great lengths to find the fatman and has no scruples about using his weapons to stop anyone who gets in his way.

When he eventually reaches Santa’s snow-laden location Skinny Man is surprised to see significant numbers of military personnel working alongside the elves resulting in Skinny Man entering the site with all guns blazing.

But the real showdown takes place between Santa and Skinny Man that leaves one man standing following Ruth’s sudden intervention before seeking their retribution against the revenge seeking brat Billy.

Apart from the brutality and violence carried out by Skinny Man the brothers Nelms have made an enjoyable revenge movie with a convincing storyline told against the background of the Christmas season.

In addition to the cinematic settings the major highlight would be Gibson’s gripping performance as the Fatman, not to mention those of Goggins as Skinny Man and Jean-Baptiste as Santa’s wife Ruth.

Vic’s Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

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