Merry Christmas to all my readers and followers! For the last movie of the season, I wanted to review something different. That’s because the Christmas movies I reviewed this year have been Hallmark productions. So, I chose to write about the Ion Television film, The Christmas Thief! This review marks two firsts for 18 Cinema Lane. The Christmas Thief is the first Ion movie I’ve ever written about, as I don’t often watch Christmas films from that network. Up until Christmas 2022, I have never reviewed a Christmas themed mystery movie. However, I know how popular the mystery genre is on my blog. With all that said, here is my gift to you; a sweet treat called The Christmas Thief!
Things I liked about the film:
Stand-out performances: While watching The Christmas Thief, there were some acting performances that stood out for the right reasons! One of them came from Jarrid Masse! Portraying a detective named Nick, Jarrid carried his character with a strong sense of charm. At the same time, Jarrid maintained the professionalism you’d expect from a detective. Even though I’ve only seen pieces of Top Gun, Jarrid’s performance reminded me of Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Iceman. I really liked seeing Nick’s interactions with his detective partner, Marie. Portrayed by Rachel Cerda, Marie had an easy-going personality. This not only complimented Nick’s personality, it helped create good on-screen camaraderie between Marie and Nick. I wish Rachel and Jarrid shared more scenes, as these two actors appeared to work well together! Bryson JonSteele portrayed Lana’s nephew, Henry. I enjoyed watching his performance, as it came across as believable! When he interacted with Lana, the film’s protagonist, Henry would sometimes adopt an accent that would be heard in a noir film. Because he looks up to his aunt as a role model, Henry has a child’s belief that he has to behave this way in order to be a good private investigator.
Henry’s subplot: As I just mentioned, Henry looks up to his aunt as a role model. He finds her private investigator dreams appealing, which inspires him to solve a mystery of his own. Shortly after Lana arrives home for Christmas, Henry asks for her help. He’s attempting to figure out if the neighborhood Santa is the real one or just a volunteer in a costume. When younger characters are incorporated in a Christmas movie, they are either there for the sake of being there or they have a minor role in the story. Henry’s subplot allowed him to have a bigger role than some younger characters in Christmas films. Having Henry’s subplot connected to the main plot also helps. With everything considered, I found this part of the story adorable!
The mystery: More often than not, I have enjoyed watching Hallmark’s mystery films. But I’ll be one of the first movie bloggers to admit the murder mystery storyline can sometimes feel repetitive. With The Christmas Thief, the mystery was a theft, which prevented the movie’s tone from becoming too dark. I also think the mystery itself was executed well! With clues sprinkled throughout the story, the audience could participate in solving the mystery alongside Lana and Nick. The creative team’s decision to make the mystery a top priority kept viewers invested in the movie. Lana’s interest in private investigation gave her a strong reason for getting involved in the case. All these pieces came together to deliver a more creative Christmas story!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Poor audio: In some outdoor scenes, the audio’s quality was poor. When characters spoke to one another, it sounded like they were trying to communicate underwater. While watching The Christmas Thief, I, at first, thought there was something wrong with my television’s sound system. But the more this occurred, I realized it was an issue with the movie itself. It seems like the film’s creative team forgot to add ADR (automated dialog replacement) in post-production.
Inconsistent parts of the story: When it came to The Christmas Thief’s script, there were inconsistencies. It didn’t happen frequently, like in A Boyfriend for Christmas, but it was still a story-related issue. One example involves Lana. Through a voice-over at the beginning of the movie, Lana reveals how she has never believed in Santa, even when she was a child. Yet, during a stakeout with Nick, she claims the neighborhood Santa is real. There’s nothing wrong with showing a character change their perspective over time. In Lana’s case, however, that journey from point A to B was never shown. So, Lana’s change in belief came across as sudden.
A message’s weak delivery: Lana has always dreamed of becoming a private investigator. But her career prospects don’t seem as bright as she originally thought. Through a heart-to-heart conversation with her mother, Lana and the audience receive one of the film’s important messages: Sometimes, a dream not coming true can be a good thing, as your skills and talents can lead you in a better direction. I have rarely seen this message incorporated in entertainment media, so I was glad to see it addressed in The Christmas Thief. However, without spoiling the movie, Lana’s career decision backtracked on this message. I was disappointed by this, as the message could have had a better execution.
My overall impression:
Christmas mystery films are, in my opinion, far and few between. Sure, there have been Christmas projects containing elements of mystery. But the only Christmas mystery movie I can think of is Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. This is why I appreciate the story of The Christmas Thief, as Ion seems eager to think outside the box. Though the film does contain its strengths, it’s not without its flaws. The poor audio was noticeable to the point where I, honestly, thought my television’s sound system was experiencing technical issues. There were even inconsistencies in the script, but not as bad as A Boyfriend for Christmas. At the end of the day, Ion’s efforts to try something different should be recognized. With the network’s recent desire to create more Christmas mystery films, it makes me wonder if Ion will eventually become a mystery exclusive channel?
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you seen The Christmas Thief? Are there any Christmas mystery films you can think of? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun during Christmas!