Monday, December 7, 2020

Operation Christmas Drop (2020) - 'Tis the Season


Streaming Services
: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Operation Christmas Drop (2020)
Genre: Comedy, Family, Romance
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: TV-G
Production/Distribution: Netflix Studios, Netflix
Director: Martin Wood
Writers: Gregg Rossen, Brian Sawyer
Actors: Kat Graham, Alexander Ludwig, Trezzo Mahoro, Bethany Brown, Rohan Campbell, Virginia Madsen, Jeff Joseph, Janet Kidder, Aliza Vellani, Aaron Douglas, Xavier de Guzman, Linden Banks, Eileen Pedde, Brittany Willacy, Audrey Wise Alvarez, Reese Alexander, Sara Nicole Duke Untalan, Penelope Jo Borja Sabla, Michelle Clarice Blas, Edward F. Taimanao Jr., Bruce Best, Harrison Cho, Felipe Viana
Blurb from IMDb: Congressional aide Erica (Graham) forgoes family Christmas to travel at her boss's behest. At a beachside Air Force base, she clashes with Capt. Andrew Jantz (Ludwig), who knows her assignment is finding reasons to defund the facility.

Cat’s Point of View:
Operation Christmas Drop was everything I expected it to be, and it was just what I needed to shore up my eroding sense of Christmas cheer this year.
2020, man. It’s not even for the birds. I wouldn’t wish 2020 on anyone. I digress.
Things in my neck of the woods have been super stressful, so having a lighter bit of holiday fare really hit the spot and left me feeling a little better about the world. Sure, it’s currently a garbage fire at the moment but let’s not talk about that. I think too many Grinches have been writing reviews for this film so far, unable to see past the funk that the year has left most of us in.

The primary complaints seem to be that the movie is very formulaic and predictable. Ok, and? With a new crisis around every corner this year, is having something follow a recipe closely the worst thing that could happen? (Don’t answer that.)
Others seem to be chalking the film up to military propaganda and just writing it off. To that, I say, really? Were it not a controversial election year, would they feel the same? I don’t see it that way at all.
I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. I’ve grown up as an avid air show attendee, visiting various Air Force bases near wherever I was living at the time for the stunning aerial displays. That, folks, is military propaganda. They’re boots-on-the-ground recruitment fairs. This movie featured military humanitarian operations, sure – but calling it propaganda is taking it a bit too far.

I love a movie with cool planes in it almost as much as an aviation enthusiast. This wasn’t what Operation Christmas Drop was about, though. There’s more heart to the matter – and I’m not talking about the romance story. When a military base is up on the congressional chopping block to be closed, it’s a scary thing for the communities that depend on it. I live just over the river from Barksdale Air Force Base, here in Louisiana. Not a day goes by that I don’t see the giant B-52s running operations in the local airspace. There are businesses that thrive and depend on air force personnel. Closing a base only means asset relocation to the military and the Washington number crunchers – but to the place the base is located, it’s a devastating blow. Thankfully, Barksdale has been ‘important enough’ that it’s unlikely that would happen here. Other places haven’t been so lucky.
Aside from the connection between the main characters, this movie also highlights that community aspect as well as the balancing act regarding stewardship of the taxpayer dollar. What’s better is that the movie was filmed at the real air base on Guam, and is even the first Hollywood studio film to be shot there. I adored that actual locations on the base which are really used in the real-life Christmas Drop operations were utilized in the movie, as well as some of the actual people working with the project.

Back to the movie, though.
I’ll be honest. I adore Kat Graham (All Eyez on Me, The Poison Rose, Cut Throat City). It seems like starring in a Netflix Christmas movie has become a holiday tradition for her, as this is the third such offering we’ve reviewed in as many years. (The previous films were The Holiday Calendar (2018) and The Knight Before Christmas (2019).) I am hoping this was intentional and she continues to do so moving forward. I couldn’t find a single flaw with her performance.
Alexander Ludwig (Lone Survivor, Midway, Vikings) has been growing on me in recent years. He portrays military personnel well, and his salute would have made my grandfather proud. (My maternal granddad used to grumble about the sloppy salutes he’d get from actual airmen as we drove past the main gates of the base when I was little.) I’m digressing again…
The chemistry between the pair was organic and I bought in on the story from their perspectives. The scenery from Guam was stunning, and I appreciated the information woven into the story about the annual drops that actually happen. Further, my angsty teen wouldn’t even be opposed to watching this movie again.
My advice is simple. Forget the nay-sayers and watch the trailer. If the film appeals to you after that, by all means, watch it and soak in that tropical island Christmas cheer. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –47%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 39%
Metascore – 47/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.2/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – G

P.S. – Photos from the real Operation Christmas Drop are shown in conjunction with related trivia during the credits. 

Movie Trailer:

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