Everything in “Operation Christmas Drop” falls predictably into place like children nestled all snug in their beds. Each plot point and character dynamic appears predetermined, and not in a seasonally charming way.
The icy and professionally stifled legislative aide, Erica (Kat Graham), is sent by her Grinchy congresswoman boss (Virginia Madsen) to evaluate the efficiency of a U.S. Air Force base in Guam. There, she goes toe to toe with Andrew (Alexander Ludwig), a genial Air Force captain who spearheads the operation of the title, where gifts are parachuted to people on neighboring islands. He must convince the Scrooge-like local mayor (Aaron Douglas) to help contribute to the mission of American altruism. And Erica’s assignment might be aborted in favor of holiday miracles.
That “Operation Christmas Drop” (streaming on Netflix and directed by Martin Wood) is stuffed like a stocking with clichés and tropes is not as bothersome as its unwillingness to put its own spin on those ideas. Even something as minor as an inventive physical gag contrasting the balmy local weather with the traditionally snowy ideal would have gotten this movie’s rusty bells to jingle. Instead, much of the film feels not light and breezy, but like a self-conscious chore, unwilling to deviate from an established blueprint.
The leads muster barely enough energy to light up a tree, which mars the appeal of what could be pleasantly innocuous viewing. Even if the goal of “Operation Christmas Drop” is to highlight humanitarian efforts made by the military while being a commercial for the U.S. Air Force, its forced yet halfhearted merriment makes the whole enterprise fatiguing and unconvincing. The one thing this movie most manages to drop is the ball on enjoyable holiday entertainment.
Operation Christmas Drop
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. Watch on Netflix.