Movie Review: Netflix’s PolarFebruary 7, 2019
If a wannabe grindhouse movie, a graphic novel, and an old 80’s Cannon action film got together and had a baby, you would get Polar. While that might sound cool as hell on paper it is nothing of the sort on film as Polar was a mess of boring characters and a bad script, it’s only saving grace being some hilarious over the top and brutal action sequences.
We meet Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen), aka The Black Kaiser, who is an infamous assassin on his way to retirement. It seems that the organization he belongs to forces retirement onto its employees at the age of 50, which obviously doesn’t happen a lot in this line of work. Still, this particular organization doesn’t seem too keen on paying out his retirement ‘pension’, instead sending some of their most prolific assassins to put him down permanently.
As Duncan, Mikkelsen sleepwalks his way through many scenes, although there are some decent moments, including some awkward mentor/father/daughter scenes with his mysterious neighbor Camille (Vanessa Hugdens). I was never really sold on the relationship between these two, too many scenes seemed forced or completely flat. However, I will admit I laughed out loud when Duncan did his show-and-tell for some school kids concerning death and the fine art of killing.
The Duncan/Camille relationship was almost Oscar quality however when compared to the time wasted introducing us to the dull and plodding assassins tasked to kill Duncan. Violent, trashy and making bizarre fashion statements, this group was instantly annoying, with no interesting or humorous qualities between them. This proves to be one of the films fatal flaws as they spend almost half the movie with this group and it drags any momentum the movie builds up down, almost to a complete standstill.
Only Herman Blut (Matt Lucas), the assassin’s boss or chief antagonist, has any redeeming qualities in terms of entertainment value. He is also a cartoon character, threatening to take his performance way over the top on numerous occasions but for the most part, manages to keep himself in check. It’s never easy walking that line between perverse evil and outlandish clown but Lucas does a decent job here.
I will say that director Jonas Akerlund does a solid job with the action side of Polar. There are some great scenes of gunplay and a very large and eclectic collection of headshots. (And I don’t mean photographs) One scene, in particular, a long drawn out fight between Duncan and what seems like endless underlings in a subterranean tunnel, left me cringing multiple times. It reminded me of the long one-shot fight scenes in Marvel’s Daredevil, tough, brutal and great bloody fun.
However, that alone was not enough to save this movie. Annoying characters and a ridiculous script gave rise to apathy in terms of me caring about what was going to happen next. The Polar graphic novel world is vast so maybe there is hope for a better story to rise from the ashes of this disappointing mess.
Two stars out of five