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If you think you’ll like “Fatman”—in which Mel Gibson stars as Santa Claus facing down a hitman—you’ll like “Fatman.” And if you aren’t so sure, you still might like it.

In these plague-ridden times, it is available both in theaters and streaming, so I watched it as God intended, with a buddy over for beer and pizza. There was a wreath on the door, lights twinkling outside, presents under (or at least in the vicinity of) the tree, and our small audience expecting a goofy Christmas action comedy. We got something better.

“Fatman” is a good film. Based on the premise, the trailer, and the R rating for violence and language, I expected a holiday shoot-‘em-up of the standard hour-and-a-half of quips, gunplay, and high explosive hijinks.

Instead, Fatman’s writer and director duo of Ian and Eshom Nelms took their time in getting to the action, developing the characters, and offering bits of humor and heart along the way, including some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. The ridiculous premise works as more than a gag because they put real people inside of it.

In this film, no one is more real than Santa. His problems long predate the appearance of a hired killer at his workshop, and the demon-haunted Gibson is perfect as a gruff, worn-down curmudgeon of a Chris Cringle trying to keep his operation afloat by doing contract work for the Pentagon. Most actors would have made the role a caricature, but Gibson made it real.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste starts quietly in her role as his wife, but she is stealing the show by the end. And Walton Goggins is excellent as the assassin sent by a precocious brat to put the fat man on ice. Each of these characters is able to surprise viewers.

This unexpectedness includes the villains, who are thoroughly wicked, but who are also given moments that show us the pain that propelled them down the paths of evil. The bad guys are made understandable, but without being excused.

This character development is possible because there is not much superfluous flesh on “Fatman.” What is in there is in there for a reason. The filmmakers keep things moving—even a villain montage manages to develop the character, and the call-outs to genre tropes stay brisk.

A few parts of the film did not work as well as the rest. We see enough of the elves to realize they are not what we expect, and to make us have surprising respect for them, but they are still a bit underdeveloped as characters. The representatives of the U.S. military are even more prone to being plot devices than developed as characters.

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Nonetheless, “Fatman” is a surprisingly complete movie, with characters, settings, and dialogue that make a surreal plot into something real. Consequently, it is more reflective than would be expected. Good characters can always make an audience think.

It might be too much to call “Fatman” a meditation on God and government, but the material is there. The government, including the military brass who want elves manufacturing parts for fighter jets, does a poor job of protecting anyone, even themselves, from the forces of evil.

In the end, the government is little more than a money spigot, good for a check in the mail. Santa has to get his hands dirty to protect himself, and to mete out justice. There will be blood on the snow.

Meanwhile, God is absent from the world of “Fatman,” other than a cross in the home of early and unnamed targets of the assassin. Instead of God, we get a god, with Chris Cringle offering lesser forms of divine reward and retribution—toys and coal rather than heaven and hell.

But this is not a feel-good holiday film content to reduce wickedness to naughtiness that deserves nothing worse than the disappointment of coal on Christmas morning. Evil is real, and Santa knows it as well as anyone. He fears that his carrots and sticks are insufficient to direct the young toward the good. Kids these days, indeed.

In this world, God and the government can’t save you. The Fatman might, if he can save himself, but some people are still beyond his reach, if not his wrath. This is, in that sense, a film set in a very pagan world. With just Santa, it is not really Christmas.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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