Movie Review: “Operation Christmas Drop” lands on Netflix


Erica Schindler, Editor in Chief

*Contains spoilers*

The Netflix original movie “Operation Christmas Drop” landed on the streaming platform on Nov. 5. It was directed by Martin Wood. The movie stars Kat Graham as a political aide and Alexander Ludwig as an Air Force pilot. The two play polar-opposites forced to spend the holiday season working together.

The movie opens with Graham’s character, Erica, walking the streets of Washington, DC. She is Christmas shopping for Congresswoman Bradford, a fictional politician and stereotypically strict boss. Erica is her political aide and aspires to become her Chief-of-Staff.

Back at the Capital, Erica learns that she is being sent to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam on a mission to compile a report for the congresswoman, the Head of the Armed Services Committee, who hopes to close the base. Erica must leave immediately, right before Christmas.

Erica meets up with Andrew, an Air Force Cargo Pilot, who has been assigned to show her around. Immediately, it is clear that they will fall in love by the end of the movie. This predictably taints the movie from the beginning, but leaves hope for a fun romance.
Their relationship starts as a hostile one. Andrew calls Erica “high maintenance” and a “pencil-pusher” behind her back. In the next scene, Erica says “he’s got a huge ego”. It’s obvious that this is a rocky start to a future romance.

Erica quickly becomes knowledgeable about the base’s Operation Christmas Drop, the reason that the congresswoman believes the base is a waste of money. The Drop is an annual tradition in which the Anderson Base delivers food, gifts and supplies to residents of nearby islands. She is skeptical of the mission, agreeing with her boss that it wastes money. Soon, she changes her mind and sees the meaning behind the Drop.

Despite being told to speed things up, Erica agrees to go “Christmas snorkeling” with Andrew. In this scene, the song “Christmas in the Sand” by Colbie Callet plays, perfectly illustrating Erica’s experience. She misses home and the snow, but is now happy to be in Guam with Andrew.

At a fundraiser for the Drop, Andrew and Erica’s relationship heats up. Erica checks her phone to find three missed calls from Washington but is so overcome with holiday cheer that she decides to ignore them until morning. Erica’s falling in love, money has been raised for the Drop and Christmas is fast approaching. Then, two storms show up.

The first is a typhoon scheduled to approach the island around Christmas. Erica, now passionate about the Drop, encourages everyone to keep preparing and hope for a Christmas miracle. The second is the congresswoman, who hopped on a flight to Guam to yell at Erica. Fearful of losing her job, Erica proclaims that she is done with the Drop.

In a series of events that doesn’t quite make sense, Erica informs Andrew that the typhoon was downgraded to a tropical storm. Operation Christmas Drop is back on! Just as the plane is loaded with boxes of supplies, Congresswoman Bradford again arrives on the scene. She’s angry Erica convinces her to watch the Drop before making her final decision regarding the base.

In a repetitive sequence, Erica helps the airmen push the boxes out of the plane. On the islands below, happy families cheer for the plane and excitedly open the boxes. Erica is offered the Chief-of-Staff job, Andrew invites her to spend Christmas with his family and the two kiss.

On paper, this seems like a sweet and festive holiday movie. But it’s missing much of the charm that most other Hallmark-esque movies possess. The two main characters aren’t very likable and the movie is lacking holiday fun.

It was interesting to see a unique take on the Christmas movie genre. Most holiday movies take place in small towns or big cities, with lots of snow and festive scenery. “Operation Christmas Drop” tries to put a spin on this, but ultimately doesn’t have the same Christmas-y feel that other movies do.

There is also controversy surrounding the film; many viewers pointed out the inaccurate representations of the people of Guam and the surrounding islands. The movie has also been called “military propaganda” by some. After watching the movie, it seems that it’s better to steer clear of any controversial themes when trying to create a fun and light-hearted family holiday movie.

To be clear, I like cheesy romantic holiday movies. For me and many other viewers, it’s okay when a movie like this is predictable and corny. “Operation Christmas Drop” takes predictability to another level. From the very beginning, the direction the plot is heading in is clear and it somehow made it difficult for me to fully enjoy it. Yes, this movie was fun on the surface but it fell short.

Hallmark, Lifetime and Netflix each have many other better offerings in the “cheesy Christmas romance” category that are more light-hearted and fun and don’t come with painful predictability, inaccuracies or boring plots. “Operation Christmas Drop” is cute at times but doesn’t bring the Christmas cheer it promises.