If you have ever dreamt of Mads Mikkelsen wearing an eyepatch for the fourth time in his movie career, watch “Polar” on Netflix. Other than that, skip it for your own mental health.
Mads Mikkelsen plays a solemn hitman Duncan Vizla, whose days of work are finally closing to an end. However, retirement in a cozy cabin with 8 million on a bank account isn’t a vision shared by Vizla’s in-debt-swimming employer, Mr. Blut (Matt Lucas). Soon, a team of reckless killers, navigated by Vivian (Katheryn Winnick), begins their hunt for the senescent hitman.
In the first scene of “Polar”, a drone zooms-in on a luxurious mansion, hidden in picturesque valley somewhere in Chile. By the pool an ageing guy is sunbathing and a skimpily woman named Sindy (Ruby O. Fee) performs fellatio on him after flashing her butt in what seems to be a classic frame of every modern rap music video. A bloodshed takes place in a split of a second after, provoked by a team of unlikely Rambo badasses, with the sequence ending on a sad boner (literally) of the man killed (and fellatio’ed) seconds before.
This once scene captures the essence of Jonas Akerlund’s “Polar” – a film so dull, inept and in a strikingly bad taste that you will wish Netflix really hires a team of conscious quality managers to get a hold of the crap uploaded there.
In the center of this razzmatazz is Mads Mikkelsen, who’s given a role that almost entirely erases the bliss of the Danish actor. The hitman Duncan Vizla isn’t remotely interesting – neither in his “I’m so lonely in my snow-covered cabin” state, nor when spraying bullets and scragging necks. The ill-conceived story avoids his character’s development like fire, condemning Mikkelsen to be equal to Steven Seagal in his after-prime films. Even if Mads’ charm evokes a percentile of likeability at times, the director Akerlund and screenwriter Jayson Rothwell always make sure to bury these moments deeply.
Nonetheless, what’s really wrong with “Polar” isn’t Mikkelsen. It’s everything around.
Acting-wise, this entire ensemble is absolutely fucking atrocious. Sorry to drop the f-bomb here, but there is no other way to express how fruitless the efforts in “Polar” are. Mr. Blut is a false ode to the British series “Utopia” (played by Matt Lucas from “Little Britain”) and his over-the-top screeching and pronunciation tempted me to throw my laptop over the window. The sleazy hunters are equally the worst and even Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha from “The Vikings”) is unable to pull off a credible bitchy “woman in control” role.
Furthermore, there’s also Vanessa Hudgens, who plays a recluse living in a cabin right next to Duncan. Their paths are so unlikely to happen in real life that it can only make one cringe. Mads and Vanessa do their utmost to breathe life into this empty vessel of their characters’ bond, but no chemistry can save “Polar”. For the most part, their relationship is a weirdly uncomfortable romance/fascination, which has nothing to do with the hunt that consumes half of Akerlund’s “Polar”. Or, to be frank, the story whatsoever.
This hunt is particularly the reason to hate “Polar”. The bunch of brain-splashing weirdos with guns can’t decide whether they fit a film by Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino or Terry Gilliam. There is gratuitous violence smeared all over the screen, and the blood-dripping murders including a repulsively obese man and a rapist (an ill-conceived wink at “Se7en”?) push the story nowhere, as well as add nothing to the film’s “profound” texture.
The brutality that “Polar” feeds on lacks finesse of any director, who uses it wisely. It’s the in-your-face kind of violence, the one that causes you to turn your eyes somewhere else. Even when Akerlund attempts to add a humorous layer to it, the heavyweight drags these scenes all the way to the bottom.
If there’s anything that compensates the lost time with “Polar”, it’s a scene somewhere in the movie’s half. Vizla, prompted by Hudgens’ character, visits a primary school and shares his best killing techniques in what’s supposedly a class on traveling around the world. In the spreading pile of dirt, that’s the one sprout for your beauty craving (being Mikkelsen acting wizardry hypnotizing the hell out of you).
“Polar” is a film that caters to nobody’s standards of enjoyable entertainment. I literally can’t believe there is a person, who can say “Polar” was fun. It’s one hell of a mess that opens Netflix’s Pandora’s Box of 2019 with a blast. Wow.
Dir. Jonas Akerlund
Hate Grade: 9/10
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