Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas
I was so looking forward to this.
The trailer Netflix dropped looked, frankly, awesome and the idea of Mads Mikkelsen as a grizzled machine nesting in the snow seemed too good to be true. Polar, adapted from hyper-stylised graphic novels of the same name, finds the world’s deadliest assassin, the feared Black Kaizer (Mikkelsen) – AKA….Duncan – adapting to retirement until the head of his firm, Blut (Lucas), puts in place a plan that can save the company a pretty penny by offing all of its aging assassins and recouping large pension plans. Rather than relaxing in the snowy tundras and dying alone, Black Kaizer is thrust into a game of cat-and-mouse against a squadron of hungry, young killers.
So far, so…fine. But that’s pretty much where the compliments end. OK, Mikkelsen makes for a decent, cold, and deadly assassin who has a few brief moments that could be deemed pretty cool (remote controlled laser finger machine guns overload…) but that’s it. Everything else is just plain dreadful. Hey, the snow looks awesome, but snow always looks awesome. The characters are abysmal, the action is overdone – edited at breakneck speed - and utterly devoid of spectacle instead focusing on gore and blood, the misogyny drips from every scene and everything just feels dirty, grimy and filthy. Ruby O’Fee’s Sindy is one of the worst female characters you may ever see on screen - she’s just there for one reason. T & A. Jonas Åkerlund and Jayson Rothwell thought long and hard about how to bring her character to the big screen. The other assassins were…I can’t recall, they were that uninteresting, badly written, and ridiculous. Vanessa Hudgens tries and, to be fair, isn’t all that bad in a quiet role. However….however, whoever decided to cast Matt Lucas as the villain needs to be struck for the industry. What a horrible casting. I struggled to get through any scenes with him jollying his way across the screen – genuinely appalling and embarrassing.
The story itself is fine, quite interesting, in fact. It’s just delivered terribly. This is what happens when style utterly mauls substance. Despite it being clearly fictional, the ability to suspend belief is crushed as soon as Black Kaizer loses three bodies’ worth of blood and other things, yet fights on against an army – that was only halfway through and still wasn't enjoyable. Deadmau5’s score was uninspiring, the atmosphere devoid of any tension, and I’m getting annoyed thinking about the movie in general.
There’s not much else to say really about a movie that is essentially visual garbage. The writing is bad, the characters are bad, the messages are bad, the sexism is rife and rough. Honestly, Polar is like a teenage boys dream, written by drooling lechers finally let off the parental controls leash. The worst sin is wasting Mads Mikkelsen in a role that he performed admirably. The trailer made this look great, but it’s nothing more than a grubby, messy, awful, misogynistic waste. Yuck.
January 25th 2019