The App That Stole Christmas – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A successful app developer creates an app that eases the burden of shopping over Christmas. Unfortunately, his busy lifestyle sees him neglecting everything in his life because of the business. When he has an accident and falls unconscious, he wakes up in Santa’s warehouse and is tasked with making one hundred toys. 

Is it any good?: The App That Stole Christmas is fucking awful. The story is A Christmas Carol meets Wizard Of Oz-esque story, without the meanest of the central character or the sweetness. The story is not the problem. The telling of the story is. 

The acting is uniformly poor, the script is rubbish, the directing is crappy. It manages to at least be in focus and the music is okay but for a film that is only sixty-four minutes long, The App That Stole Christmas is a real chore of a watch. 

I had to watch the film in three parts, that is how much of an abomination I found this film. Even my computer stuttered at the awfulness of this film.

Spoiler territory: company CEO, Felix Rhome (Jackie Long), is on a business call whilst his PA, Merry – haha, very droll. No. (Mellissa Macedo), follows him with a clipboard and a document she needs him to sign because he is an important guy and needs to sign off on stuff. He goes to his office, no idea why he was walking around the conference room. Better acoustics maybe? 

Elsewhere, his wife, Ellen (Diane Howard), is receiving reflected praise for her husband’s app. His Bomazon company – I see what you did there. Jeff, please sue them! – have created an app that is brilliant for Christmas shopping. Yes, really. 

Ellen, who is in a socially distanced hairdressers, is chatting with effeminate (yawn) hairstylist, Jaiden (J. R. Taylor) and two other stylists, Samantha (Genevieve Helm) _ who is white so they really pushed the boat on names in this script – and Carly (Elise Neal).

A third stylist is cleaning up, Jessie (Amber Cornish). The two stylist leave after a brief conversation about who the best stylist is. Don’t care. 

Ellen leaves almost immediately afterwards, giving the keys to Jessie to lock up. So that scene was pointless. Back at Bomazon headquarters, Felix is giving Merry – haha, that never gets old. 

Except it does – orders about some such over the phone’s intercom. As soon as he has finished that conversation, literally the next second, Merry – haha…argh! – is in the office telling Felix there is someone to see him. It is JayQ (Jayq – that’s what it says on IMDB, maybe he is a rapper as well), about the app. 

JayQ comes into the office. JayQ tells him that his app is stealing quality time. They have been watching him and his company. None of this psychobabble seems to alarm Felix at all. 

He just defends his app as though this were a normal conversation. People love his app. JayQ tells him that that night, life as he knows it will change forever. 

Felix is still not at all alarmed by this. Nada. Nothing. This does not strike him as a usual remark. Anyhoo, Merry – ha. That’s all. – comes into the office to tell him he is needed. Felix gets up to leave and tells her to get rid of JayQ, not in a mafiosa way, unfortunately. 

The security guard (Torae Carr) is getting told off by Ms Booker. Felix walks past and they exchange a few words. Felix goes home and gets into a disagreement with his wife because….it serves some purpose? 

He wants to know where his son, Ben (Jalyn Hall) is. He is playing a video game. Felix goes to talk to his boy. 

The sullen little fuck, is playing games with his friends online – no cliché there then – his grandfather, Gramps (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), thinks he should be outside. Gramps and Felix getting into an argument about that. So there is that. 

Dinner gets delivered. Around the dinner table – everybody comes to the dinner table – Gramps complains about everybody’s obsession with apps.

Felix tries to restrict Ben’s access to his phone at dinner. Later, whilst in bed, Ellen and Felix argue about his constant busyness. Ben picks up his phone to play and Santa Claus is on the screen. Ben is shocked. Hmm. 

The next day in the salon, everyone is still raving about the Christmas app. What world is this?! As inane conversations continue, we see that the app is addictive. People keep shopping on it! Wow! 

In a board meeting at Bomazon – stop him Jeff! Stop him! – everybody is happy with the profits from the app and predict bigger profits the following year. Yippee. 

Felix walks past the security guard again and the guard bemoans his struggle to get gifts for Christmas. Felix, the magnanimous and generous boss that he is, tells him to get the app. Thanks, Felix! 

You can get anything you want on the app. What a great idea. Felix tries to get the details of the visitor he had earlier, JayQ, from security. There is no record of JayQ. 

Merry – fuck off – comes in and talks about another problem. They need another factory for some bollocks or stuff. Who knows, nothing is clear. Felix rings his wife. It is supposed to be date night but Felix is working. He has a business to run. Maybe he should employ a few managers….

Ellen goes to her no customers salon and waits all day. She bemoans Felix’s lateness as darkness falls. Felix manages to get a new factory. He sees that he is late for his date with Ellen and rushes out of the office. He crashes into the security guard and is knocked unconscious. 

Felix wakes up in Santa’s workshop. He sees JayQ and Ray (Ray J – names are not a creative consideration). Ray recounts his day to him, to see if he remembers anything. Felix does. 

It is late, Ben asks his mother if his dad is back yet. She tells him he is stuck at work. Back at the workshop, Felix is being told by JayQ that they know everything about him and he has been missing quality time with his wife and family. 

Ray reminds him how he used to make toys with his father but now he has created an app that steals time and makes people buy more stuff. Felix argues that his app has improved lives and made Christmas easier. He wants to see his son. Not worried about his wife then? 

Ellen calls the police, unable to get in contact with her husband. They tell her it has been less than forty-eight hours, so they cannot do anything. 

Back in Santa’s house, Santa (J Anthony Brown) tells Felix that he has to work making toys. Ellen is at the hospital. Felix is in a coma having been knocked unconscious at work. The doctor tells Ellen and Gramps he is dreaming. He can tell by the eye movement. Wow, wow, wow. 

Santa is telling Felix they need him to make toys. He hands him over to JayQ even as he protests. Ellen takes Ben home. 

He not hungry when she offers to make lunch. She offers him a cookie and he succumbs. Forgets his father for a cookie, bleedin’ kids. 

Felix is having a tantrum at Santa’s house. Santa tells him they just want him to make toys. Ray takes Felix to the workshop. Gramps waits by his son’s bed in the hospital. At home, an excited Ben runs to his mother, saying he heard his father’s voice in Santa’s workshop. 

Back at the workshop, Santa tells Felix he needs to make one hundred toys. Felix tells them he needs to call his family. They give him a phone but it does not work. 

JayQ gives him a useless pep talk. In the hospital, the doctor (Kenny Rhodes), who is, frankly, an embarrassment to the profession, tells Ellen of the multiple things that could be afflicting Felix but he has no idea which it is. They just have to wait. 

Felix tries to escape from Santa’s world and keeps running into invisible walls. He asks Ray how can he get out. Ray tells him that he will get out when it is time. Okay, very helpful. 

Felix enlists the help of Ray to make up his quota of toys in the hope of getting out of Santa’s world. 

Ben talks to Santa. Ben tells Santa he wants his dad back. They talk about other stuff but as I’m suffering this film for the second time I cannot be bothered to recount it. 

A morose Ben is consoled by his mother, reminding him of the time he got a telescope in time for a meteor shower. Sometimes things happen. Okay…then. 

Back at Santa’s house, Felix is woken up by Toc (Anthony McKinley). Felix tells him why he stopped making toys and how making the app made him successful. Toc tells him that he needs to spend more time with his family. I see a theme here….

Ben sees Santa again. Ellen walks past his bedroom and sees Santa on his phone. She watches the Santa’s house Livestream with him and sees Felix on the phone. 

Ellen tells Ben to get his clothes on. They head to the hospital. Back at Santa’s house, Santa tells him it is time to return home. After an unnecessary speech and heart to heart, Santa shakes Felix’s hand. He wakes up in the hospital. 

Felix wakes up and is contrite about his fast lifestyle – he works a lot, we get it – and tell everyone he is going to be different now. Felix leaves the hospital. Immediately. Beds are not cheap even if one is a millionaire. 

At home and it is Christmas Eve. Felix and the family have everyone come around for a party. Felix kisses Ellen. The end. Thank fuck. 

Final thoughts: The App That Stole Christmas is easily the worse Christmas film you will ever watch. It is so bad that they even get one of the actors name in the credits wrong! 

There is nothing at all to recommend this film. Even the fact that it is short does not save it. The acting is bad, the script is bad, the framing is bad, the….you get my drift. 

It is not as though a Christmas film has to be a masterpiece, all one expects is a bit of festive cheer; a middling rom-com with a couple of attractive people; a lonely child who gets loved in the end; a lonely person, man or woman, who is saved and has their faith renewed by Christmas, it’s not hard! 

Four people were involved with the writing of this crap – four! Jennifer Rapaport and Monica Floyd wrote the story – ha! – and Peter John and Miriam Bavly, the screenplay. Floyd is on directing duties. 

I can only assume this was the first draft or that they had a deadline by which to spend the production money because there is no way anybody, any single person, reads this screenplay and thinks it is ready to go. 

The app angle is so overused that when it is employed it needs to be done well. That is not the case here and the premise is bullshit. An app that has everyone shopping at Christmas? Really? Nothing like that exists and if it did, would anyone use it? The words “close the door” and “horse bolted”, come to mind. 

The App That Stole Christmas is a disgrace of a film and even a student filmmaker would be embarrassed to have made it. I can only think the production company behind it are laundering money but that may be because I watch too many telenovelas. That being said, unless you want to ruin your Christmas, I suggest you avoid this film. Awful. 

Incoming – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: several extremely dangerous terrorists are captured and put into a secure prison on a space station. There, they are interrogated for five years. When a crew, including a new doctor, go for a routine monthly check-up of the prisoners, the prisoners escape and the crew must fight to prevent the terrorist crashing the space station into Earth and starting a third world war. 

Is it any good?: Incoming is awful and has very few redeeming qualities. It is, at least, in focus and is mercifully short but beyond that, there is really very little to recommend this film. An utter turd. 

Spoiler territory: Big Ben is blown up by a terrorist group, The Wolf Pack. Sounds more like the name of a pub, in fact…I digress, the Wolf Pack leader, Argun (Vahidin Prelic) is sitting in a dingy, spartan apartment, watching the news on a laptop – no furniture but perfect wifi. Priorities. – when the police burst into the apartment and arrest him. 

Five years later, Argun is woken by a voice shouting his name. The voice is Kingsley (Lukas Loughran), the jailer and torturer. He wants to know where Alpha, the elusive leader of the Wolf Pack, is. 

Argun says he does not know. Kingsley blast him with steam. Argun screams a lot in his tiny cell. He then plays loud heavy metal music into the cell. Argun keeps screaming. The music is, admittedly, pretty bad. Kingsley puts on some porn to entertain himself. 

Kingsley’s enjoyment is briefly interrupted by a transmission from Hemmings (Dominic Power) of MI6. He wants to know how the interrogation is going. Apparently, Argun is close to breaking. Hemmings is worried about international relations, especially as Kingsley managed to push all the other countries interrogators out of the space station, leaving him solely in charge. 

Kingsley voices concerns about a woman coming as part of the crew for the monthly check-up of the prisoners. Hemmings tells him that Reiser (Scott Adkins) okayed it. 

On a shuttle bound for the space station, are Reiser, pilot Bridges (Aaron McCusker) and the doctor, Stone (Michelle Lehane). Reiser and Bridges are quite blasé about the trip, having done it many times before. Stone marvels at the majesty of space. I suppose one would. They reach the space station. 

Stone is told about the six prisoners and that Kingsley is the only person looking after them, which is how he likes it. After voicing some concerns about the human rights of the prisoners, Stone is taken by Kingsley to the examination room. She is not too impressed with the room. Kingsley tells her that she is not to reveal any information to the prisoners. 

Argun is the first prisoner brought to her. Bridges and Reiser watch the doctor via video. Bridges asks what would happen if the doctor got overpowered. Reiser tells him they are all expendable. Argun tells Stone that he has a record of all the torture that has been meted out to him. Kingsley cuts the session short, dragging Argun back to his cell. 

A furious Stone confronts Reiser. She tells him the prisoners are being tortured. Reiser acts as if he had no idea and demands that Kingsley explain himself. Bridges tells them that he is going to prepare for departure. 

Stone, left alone, goes and talks to Argun to ask him about the records he told her about. Of course, it turns out to be a ruse and Argun overpowers her and escapes. He frees the other prisoners, the rest of the Wolf Pack. 

Kingsley returns to the control centre and sees that all of the prisoners are free. He sounds the alarm, no idea to whom seeing as they are in space. More practically, the three men arm themselves and go after the prisoners. 

With no firearms on the space station, all they have are taser guns. and cattle prods. They face off against Argun and his five cohorts; Idris (Alaa Safi), Kunta (Milan Kovacevic), Doku (Arkie Reece), Eibek (Vladimir Aleksic) and Bolat (Milan Jovanovic Strongman). 

Reiser, Kingsley and Bridges face off against them. Outnumbered two to one, the three are forced to flee, locking a door behind them. They find Stone in Argun’s cell. Kingsley is furious, blaming her for the whole situation. 

Argun and his crew search for the men, even though they saw where they ran off to. They come across a window and realise they are in space. They end up in the control centre and Argun tells them that they need to take the crew hostage. 

Bridges asks Reiser about the capture of Argun. Reiser is less than forthcoming but Bridges works out that Argun is Alpha. Kingsley, who has been torturing the man for five years and obviously is not that bright, is stunned. 

He goes a little crazy, especially when he realises they had him interrogating the prisoners pointlessly for over three years. 

He breaks out of the room that the four of them are holed-up in and is promptly captured by Argun and his thugs. They are more than happy to receive him, wanting to repay him for their five years of torture.

Quite where he thought he was running off to is anybody’s guess. Anyhoo, Argun and a couple of the others hiss threats of retribution at him before Idris has an epiphany. 

Outside of the control room, Bridges, Reiser and Stone are looking for supplies. Stone finds some bottled water. Reiser takes a wrench and makes weapons because….meanwhile, Bridges and Stone have an inane conversation about astronauts and Top Gun maybe. 

Reiser brings back the makeshift weapons and they prepare to try and get to the power room in order to get a message back to Earth. Back in the control room, Idris is telling them that he can pilot the shuttle and crash the space station in Russia. This really is the plan. 

Reiser tells Bridges and Stone about Idris and how he has the knowledge to fly the space shuttle. Back in the control room, Idris tells the others that all he needs are the override codes. One always needs those pesky override codes! 

He tells them that they can probably get them from Kingsley. Kingsley’s resistance is quickly broken, along with his left hand and he agrees to override the system. They drag him back to the control centre.

Reiser tells them that they have to get to the control room. They fight with Bolat and Doku. Doku takes a few licks and runs off to tell Argun. Bolat gets his arm broken and is killed by Reiser. A shocked Stone asks him why he killed him. Reiser tells her that none of the prisoners can leave alive. Not the answer she was expecting. 

Argun, informed of the death of Bolat and knowing that they will try to stop them, tells the others that they just have to stop them from getting to the control room and shuttle. Bridges, Reiser and Stone get to the power room and contact Earth, informing them of the situation on the space station. 

Argun realises that the communications are on and cuts them. Idris programs the space shuttle for re-entry and the engines fire up. Reiser, somewhat obviously, says they have to stop them. Stone thinks they need to save Kingsley. 

They storm the control room. Bridges grabs the injured Kingsley and is helping him to leave the control room. Argun stabs Kingsley multiple times before Reiser fights him off. Stone, Reiser, Bridges and the now dying Kingsley, escape the control room. 

They move to another section of the station but Reiser stays behind to fight with Doku, who has suddenly found a backbone after running away earlier. Doku is not the greatest fighter and gets cut a lot before Reiser stabs him in the gut. obvs. 

He is not quite dead, so Reiser makes a point of slitting his throat in front of Argun, Eibek and Kunta. Eibek rushes at him and is captured by Stone and Bridges. Reiser pushes Stone aside and stabs Eibek multiple time, killing him. Kingsley has died of his wounds. 

Reiser explains that they have to prevent the space station crashing into Moss-cow – that’s how they say it – and some other bollocks about leaving all the secrets behind. 

Stone reminds him that he brought her to the station to expose it. Stone suggest talking to Argun. The other two scoff, pointing out the fact that he is prepared for martyrdom. Stone says she is going to try anyway. 

Stone talks to Argun, telling him she will expose the inhumanity of the station. Argun rages at her about having the desire to die for a cause and not being an animal. It is a waste of an almost good speech. Argun returns to the control room. 

He only needs to keep them occupied for half an hour. He locks all of the rooms on the station. They can still get into the control room, the only room they want to get into. 

Back on Earth, various security heads talk about about the gravity of the situation and how to deal with it. The Russians must never know! They launch a rocket to destroy the space station. 

On the space station, Bridges mocks up some Molotov cocktails and the three of them go to the control room. They throw the Molotovs into the room and there is an explosion. They follow in afterwards. 

The explosion has not slowed Argun and Kunta down at all. Reiser fights with Kunta, receiving multiple gut stabs for his trouble. Reiser is hard as nails and just keeps on fighting. Stone takes a taser shot as Bridges tackles Argun. Stone recovers and grabs one of the unexploded Molotovs and throw it at Kunta who is fighting with Reiser. The explosion kills him. 

Reiser is so grateful for her assistance that he goes and kicks her in the gut and punches her unconscious. Bridges is still fighting with Argun. Reiser does not help, instead, going after Idris. Idris is waiting for him and they start fighting. Once again, Reiser hands out a beatdown and kills Idris. 

In the control room, Bridges is shouting at Stone to go after Reiser. She peels herself off the floor and grabs a makeshift blade, going after Reiser. He laughs at her, sure she would not try to kill him. 

She stabs him in the shoulder. Reiser turns on her and punches her in the stomach. He proceeds to strangle her. In the control room, Bridges beats a still defiant Argun unconscious. 

Reiser is still strangling Stone. She grabs a fire extinguisher and bashes his head in, killing him. No idea where the extinguisher appeared from. Bridges comes into the docking area and they both get into the shuttle. Bridges flies them home. The space station is destroyed. The end. 

Final thoughts: Incoming is an abomination of a film. Usually, a Scott Adkins film is entertaining even if it is not necessarily Oscar fodder. He is a great martial artist and his fans watch his films for the fight scenes. 

I suggest they give this one a miss. Incoming is utter rubbish. The story is nonsense, the premise is vaguely okay but badly executed. The acting is passable but nothing to shout about. 

The film has no protagonist really, with Reiser turning out to be an antagonist and Stone and Bridges just fighting for their own lives. Argun being Alpha was a ‘meh’ reveal and did not affect the story except for driving the already bonkers Kingsley further over the edge. Reiser bringing Stone on the mission to deliberately to expose its shortcomings, made no sense, especially as he tries to kill her later. 

There is a horrible explosion effect right at the beginning of the film, where Big Ben supposedly blows up. It just adds to the awfulness of the film. Incoming is a true turd of a film. Even Adkins’ family would struggle to make a case for this film. Avoid.