If you ever needed the image of Mads Mikkelsen wearing an eyepatch for the fourth time in his movie career, it would be enough reason to watch “Polar” on Netflix. Other than that, skip it for your own health.
A solemn hitman Duncan Vizla (played by Mads Mikkelsen)countes the days of work which are finally closing to an end. Retirement in a cozy cabin with 8 million on a bank account isn’t, however, a vision shared by Vizla’s 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. An ageing guy is sunbathing by the pool, while 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 of the killed man.
This once scene captures the essence of Jonas Akerlund’s “Polar” – a film so dull, inept and in such a bad taste that you will wish Netflix really hires a team of conscious quality managers to get a hold of the crap uploaded there.
But they aren’t hired yet, so here we are.
In the center of this razzmatazz is Mads Mikkelsen, given a role that almost entirely erases his bravado character. The hitman he stars as isn’t remotely interesting – neither his “I’m so lonely in my snow-covered cabin” state, nor when Vizla’s spraying bullets and scragging necks. Director’s ill-conceived story avoids 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 likability, Akerlund (the director of “Polar”) and screenwriter Jayson Rothwell always make sure to bury these moments deeply underground.
But what’s really wrong with “Polar” isn’t Mikkelsen. It’s everything around him.
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’s slapstick 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 bitchy “woman in control” role. Peter Griffin would say that this acting is what grinds my ears.
Somewhere in this mess, there’s also Disney’s starlet Vanessa Hudgens. The young actress takes on the role of a reclusive woman living in a cabin right next to Mikkelsen’s character. While both Mads and Vanessa do their utmost to breathe life into this empty vessel, no chemistry can save “Polar”. For the most part, their relationship is a weirdly uncomfortable romance, which has nothing to do with the hunt that consumes half of Akerlund’s “Polar”. Or, to be frank, the story whatsoever. It’s just a cringefest, designed to add just another particle to float in detachment from anything else.
The hunt is particularly the reason to hate “Polar”
The bunch of brain-splashing weirdos with guns can’t decide whether they want a gig in a movie by Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino or Terry Gilliam. There is gratuitous violence smeared all over the screen, and the blood-dripping murders include a repulsively obese man and a rapist (an ill-conceived wink at “Se7en”?). These brutal acts push the story nowhere, as well as add nothing to the film’s “profound” texture.
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). But despite this one moment of sunshine, it’s a depressing, dreary fog. A hell of a way to kick off 2019 Netflix, bravo.
Dir. Jonas Akerlund
Hate Grade: 9/10
Check out other reviews of Netflix Originals by Cultural Hater!