Polar fires stylized gorgeous color with a brashness to match to give the assassin genre the Netflix touch.
Netflix does a scary good job creating a great trailer. Big name actor? Check? Interesting shots? Check. Pop-y song? Check. A great movie though? There haven’t been many as far as I’m concerned. So going into Polar, a Netflix film based on a Dark Horse graphic novel I wasn’t sure what I’d get. Strangely enough, I was getting exactly what the trailer promised and then some. The problem? It may have been a bit too much.
Let me get this out of the way right now, Polar is an edgy as hell movie, with a focus towards gratifying violence and nudity. It’s Netflix flexing it’s anything goes muscle with source material that felt the same way. It creates over the top psycho assassins, a mustache twirling villain, and the not so bad but kind of bad guy hero.
To the good first though, Mads Mikkelsen as a bad ass John Wick style assassin is and always will be awesome. In fact, I kind of wish he would be in a John Wick movie because THAT would be an amazing movie. Netflix pay Keanu stupid money and make it happen please. Mikkelsen’s character is code-named the Black Kaiser, and he sure lives up to that name in his brutal efficiency at taking out targets. I could easily watch another Polar following more of these crazy moments. Mikkelsen’s no nonsense, dry humor delivery gave the movie some much needed flavor to keep scenes where he is not murdering people interesting. The other thing that is a joy to watch is just the style that oozes from every shot. They focused on capturing and brightening color along with just gorgeous shots that felt on point as a graphic novel adaptation. It kept my eyes pleased even during scenes that made my ears and brain hurt. And that happens a bit more than I wished.
My major problems with this movie come about with the absurdly annoying villain, Blut, and just the need to be edgy for no reason beyond, let’s push this MA rating as far as possible Blut’s motivations of greed make sense, but everything else about him is just too much. He’s too evil because… cue the evil laughter. Yeah, I don’t know why, and neither does the movie. He’s over ridiculous evil because this story’s over the top style demands that he be. It makes ZERO sense why someone who knows so much about Mads’ Duncan Vizla would ever feel confident on trying to kill the man.
It’s sad that the characters that could have been interesting, his elite A-Team style assassins team and his second in command Vivian (played by the badass Katheryn Winnick from Vikings) get tarnished by having to be involved with this absolute batshit weirdo. Everything about the bad guys in this movie goes super cartoonish, which works for the A-Team group, but just feels so out of place everywhere else. This movie could have been so much more interesting without Blut. They could have replaced him with a heartless corporate board and bam! All the sudden it doesn’t feel crazy stupid as to why these events are taking place. As for the edginess, well I guess it’s a personal taste thing. For me it crosses the line into pandering way more often than clever.
I could keep going and going about ways they could have made this more bearable but the reality is that wasn’t what we got. when it comes down to it, I both loved and hated the extremes of this movie. If it wasn’t for the stylish visuals and Mads Mikkelsen this would have been so bad I wouldn’t know if I could watch the whole movie. These factors save the movie from being a waste of time, but I’d find it hard to recommend to anyone unless they watch the trailer and understand that anything crazy you see is just the tip of the cocaine iceberg. If you are down for that, then you might like Polar.