Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange) is a master assassin whose retirement is interrupted by himself becoming the target of a hit, in this Jonas Akerlund-directed actioner based on the Dark Horse graphic novel by Victor Santos.
It’s a plot that has been rehashed countless times before, which would be ok if the film was more fun, writes Daniel Rutledge.
The classic set-up of assassins trying to kill a retiring assassin is given a silly, ugly, cartoonish music video treatment here. Polar is an ultraviolent action flick with graphic torture, plenty of nudity and even a fair amount of hard drug use thrown in for good measure. But it’s not nearly as fun as all that sounds.
This is a very, very stylised film, dripping with garish visuals and pulsating a wacky tone that’s somewhere in between Crank and Austin Powers. In order to enjoy this sort of thing, that stylishness has really got to land, and it mostly doesn’t.
But sometimes it does. In between the gross flashing fonts, hyper-saturated sets, and eye-watering wardrobe choices, there is the odd beautiful shot.
And there’s also Mads Mikkelsen, who is definitely one of the coolest fucking dudes ever. He elevates the overall shittiness considerably with his icy expressions and enigmatic eyes. Oh, and his bare ass, which is proudly on display both while he copulates with beautiful ladies and ruthlessly dispatches bad guys. He’s playing a crazy killing machine and easily the best thing in this dumb film that cares little about making sense.
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Much of the action is poorly brought to screen. It relies heavily on CG blood spray and lacks both the inventiveness and visual clarity that makes other cult modern action so great. But there are a few delightful moments, like when Mikkelsen is using a sniper rifle, an electric drill or a nail gun.
Although this plot has been rehashed countless times before, the franchise Polar most obviously apes is the vastly superior John Wick. That would be fine if it paid appropriate respect—but instead, it appears to give its big brother the finger in a pointless segment that includes the line, “I don’t need a dog”. It’s maybe the biggest mistake in this whole mess, which should only be watched by those willing to wallow in awful shit for a few illicit thrills.