Polar is the film adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series by Victor Santos. It is a bloody, stylized slaughter-fest loaded with gratuitous nudity. The bouncing boobies and jiggling butt cheeks are only outmatched by the cavalcade of bullets. I expected as much from the comics, but was surprisingly bored by the action scenes and near two hour runtime. Polar has a painfully simple plot that could easily have been resolved in ninety minutes. The film drags considerably as one-note characters plod through the mindless carnage.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen stars as the contract killer, Duncan Vizla; renowned and feared as The Black Kaiser. The top assassin for the secret organization, Damocles, Vizla is on the verge of a forced retirement. Damocles parts ways with its employees on their fiftieth birthday. Paying out a handsome separation package if the employee lasts long enough to collect it. The Black Kaiser is owed eight million dollars.
The grotesque leader of Damocles, Mr. Blut (Matt Lucas), isn't happy shelling out that cash. He sends an A-team of vicious killers to make sure Duncan Vizla doesn't collect the pension. They have to find him first. The Black Kaiser has strangely found sanctuary in a small Montana town. He takes a keen interest in an emotionally troubled neighbor (Vanessa Hudgens). A hitman with no friends is looking to start anew, if he can survive to retirement.
Polar is pretty boring for such a violent film. There's nothing exceptional or creative with the gore or action. Duncan Vizla takes his lumps and then some, but is an unstoppable killing machine. He plows through baddies effortlessly. Even the bad-asses sent by Damocles are easily dispatched. The villain in the story is Blut, but he's hardly a threat. There needed to be an antagonist nearly equal to the ability of The Black Kaiser. There wasn't a second of this film where I felt anyone but the villains were in peril.
Polar is a letdown from an artistic viewpoint. The film is directed by Jonas Akerlund. He's a venerated music video director who's worked with megastars from Metallica to Madonna. He directed The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up", a true classic. Polar is also scored by the EDM giant Deadmau5. You'd think that Polar would be bursting with creativity and a raging soundtrack. Hardly, the film comes off as generic for the genre. This is unexpected because the illustrations from the comic are so unique. The only colors are black, white, and orange. It's a highly effective color scheme for the violence. I saw Polar cold, no pun intended, so expected the film to look like the comics. It doesn't and that's disappointing. Jonas Akerlund and Deadmau5 dial in their effort here.
The performances by leads Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens are the only merits. Don't get me wrong, the script sucks and they don't say anything worthwhile. But they do their best with the stale dialogue. Mikkelsen is believable as Duncan Vizla. He pulls off the angst, beatdowns, and gunplay. He just needs a better film to star in. The same goes for Hudgens. She's underrated as an actress. The damsel in distress routine could have been as rote as the majority of the film.
Netflix will stream Polar globally on January 25th. It's hardly more interesting than the countless generic action titles in their library. Polar needs a reboot that is visually inline with the comic. Mads Mikkelsen deserves another crack at The Black Kaiser. Netflix should hire a director like Alex Proyas or Robert Rodriguez for any future installments.