Mel, what were you thinking? I know you’re looking for that flick to make the big comeback from bad guy jail, but this ain’t it. I can kinda sorta see why you might have thought this was a fun idea, but jeez! Mel plays Santa, known in this one as Chris Cringle, whose business model isn’t working any more and decides to partner with the US military on the off season so he can make ends meet. Meanwhile, a spoiled rich kid who deservedly got a lump of coal for Christmas has hired an assassin (Walton Goggins, John Bronco, “Justified”) to take revenge on him for the slight. What this setup promises is a dark action-comedy. What the audience gets is something much more muddled and decidedly not funny.

Chris is not a fat and jolly guy. He lives with his sweet wife Ruth (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets and Lies) in a dilapidated house and spends his free time shooting targets, boxing, and drinking. He’s depressed by the fact that there are more and more naughty children out there. And then he has to make the bargain with the military to use the elves in off season to make parts for weapons. There’s not a whole lot to love about this Santa. The assassin is a grown-up who’s still holding a grudge because as a kid he didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas. And as he heads north to find and kill Chris, he shoots everyone in his way. So, yeah, lots of blood in this holiday flick.

I’m really not sure who the audience is for this one. Certainly not kids. Adults who are looking for a Bad Santa will be very disappointed. People looking for a good action film, too. Give yourself an early Christmas gift and skip this one. My New Year’s wish is that Mel finds a script worthy of his acting abilities soon.

In select theaters on November 13th – on demand and digital beginning November 24

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