If you ever needed the image of Mads Mikkelsen wearing an eyepatch for the fourth time in his career, it would be enough reason to watch Polar (2019) on Netflix. Other than that, skip it for your own mental health.
In the first scene of Polar (2019), a drone zooms-in on a luxurious mansion, hidden in picturesque valley somewhere in Chile. We see an ageing guy sunbathing by the pool, while a skimpily dressed woman named Sindy (Ruby O. Fee) performs fellatio on him. Seconds before, the Costa Rican actress Ruby O. Fee flashes her butt in what seems to be a classic frame ripped out of every modern rap music video. What follows is a bloodshed, provoked by a team of unlikely Rambo badasses, with the sequence ending on… a sad boner of the murdered man.
In my opinion, this once scene captures the essence of Jonas Akerlund’s Polar (2019). it’s a film so dull, inept and directed 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 since they aren’t hired yet, here we are.
What is Polar (2019) about?
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 center of this razzmatazz is Mads Mikkelsen, who is given a role that almost entirely covers his natural bravado and charisma. This hitman isn’t remotely interesting – neither his “I’m so lonely in my snow-covered cabin” state, nor when he’s spraying bullets and scragging necks. Arguably, the latter should be exciting for Polar (2019) is an action blockbuster on paper.
Mikkelsen disappoints because Jonas Akerlund’s ill-conceived story avoids his character’s development like fire, condemning the actor to be equal to Steven Seagal as he starred in the after-prime films. Even if Mads’ inherent charm evokes a percentile of likability, Akerlund and screenwriter Jayson Rothwell always make sure to twist those moments around.
Mikkelsen is the least of a problem in Polar (2019)
Acting-wise, this entire ensemble is absolutely atrocious. From Matt Lucas to Katheryn Winnick, it is a travesty to watch.
Mr. Blut’s slapstick mode is a false ode to the British series Utopia (played by Matt Lucas from Little Britain). Lucas’ over-the-top screeching and pronunciation tempted me to throw my laptop over the window. The sleazy hunters are equally the worst. Akerlund draws them as a cartoon goon squad, with defiant Ruby O. Fee leading the squad. This could have been a nod to grind house genre, however Akerlund’s sketches are rough, and tasteless.
Even Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha from The Vikings) is unable to pull off a bitchy “woman in control” role. And the Canadian actress proved herself to capably do that in her previous endeavors.
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 (2019). 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 (2019).
Or, to be frank, with the story whatsoever.
The hunt is particularly the reason to hate Polar (2019)
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. Akerlund smears gratuitous violence all over the screen, and the blood-dripping murders include a repulsively obese man and a rapist (an ill-conceived wink at Se7en (1995)?). 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 (2019), 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 pile of dirt, that’s the one sprout worth mentioning. Other than that, it’s an absolute nightmare, which might be hard to forget.
A hell of a way to kick off 2019 Netflix, bravo.
Polar (2019) – Culturally Loved or Hated?
A disturbing rock-bottom point for Mads Mikkelsen, and an all-together atrocious film, this is the reason why Netflix desperately needs content quality control.
Hate Grade: 9/10
Director: Jonas Akerlund
Writers: Jonas Akerlund, Jayson Rothwell
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Katheryn Winnick, Vanessa Hudgens, Ruby O. Fee, Matt Lucas
Cinematography: Pär M. Ekberg
Where to watch: Netflix