When looking at alternative films for the holiday season, action fans will find heartwarming fare in Santassassin, the latest Grindhouse picture spawned by the minds of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

When the United States government discover the some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world are holed up in an impenetrable fortress, they call in the number one wetwork and infiltration asset available – Santa Claus. With skills honed from years of sneaking through locked doors and narrow chimneys, and never waking sleeping children Santa is the go-to guy in the shady world of government-sanctioned assassinations. Getting him out of retirement in his North Pole toy factory won’t be easy, but when the bad guys target the workshop, slaughtering countless elves and kidnapping Mrs Claus, they quickly find themselves on the naughty list…

The film is cast perfectly, with Samuel L Jackson oozing badass attitude, delivering his lines with barely-restrained fury and wielding some serious firepower like only he can. Eva Mendes carries on her form from The Other Guys as the devoted Mrs Claus, and Alan Rickman resurrecting his evil Die Hard persona as an Eastern European ultranationalist. The standout cameo though is surely Malcolm McDowell as the Secretary of Defence, acting as an old friend and mentor to Santa. The scenes between the two men containing a bizarre, yet compelling mix of gravitas and foul-mouthed one liners.

This film rightly carries an 18 certificate, with the script including the word “f*ck” or “Motherf*cker” an impressive 281 times. Some of these do feel a little shoehorned in, such as the sequence in which a washed-up Jackson is seen taking a job as a mall Santa, and asking a small child “What do you want for Christmas, Motherf*cker?” The violence also needs a mention, with Santas sack of automatic weapons being brought to bear on an incredible number of adversaries over the course of the movie. One scene, in which Santa mounts a .50cal machine gun on the back of his sleigh could easily rival the climactic sequences of the latest Rambo movie for blood and gore. Perhaps the most visceral killing shown is a clever nod to festive classic Jack Frost , when a henchman is garotted by a string of fairy lights. In short, this is not a film for the faint of heart.

Some comedy touches do however lighten the mood, with some excellent one liners from the lead. “Looks like all you motherf*ckers are on my naughty list” (cocks shotgun) being a highlight, and Jacksons superbly delivered “Ho-Ho-Ho-ly shit!” must surely go down as one of the greatest of all time.

Go into Santassassin expecting Shakespeare and you will be disappointed, but if you’re looking for a fun, exciting and funny action film this Christmas, you could do a lot worse than what may be Jackson’s finest hour since Pulp Fiction.

By Sam Faulkner

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