News and Commentary

‘Polar’ Review: Fans Of Action Films Beware

“Lords of Chaos” director Jonas Åkerlund takes the helm of “Polar,” a Netflix original film based on the Dark Horse Comics digital series “Polar: Came From the Cold” by Víctor Santos. It tries to riff on the “aging hitman seeking redemption” genre that has become popular in recent years.

The mercenary organization known as the Damocles corporation has found a way to increase their profits. Instead of paying their agents who have decided to retire, they have a group of crazed assassins wipe them out before their lucrative payday.

Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen) is one of Damocles’ finest hitmen. He has taken out high-profile targets over the years and amassed an eight million dollar retirement nest egg. Company director Mr. Blut (Matt Lucas) and handler Vivian (Katheryn Winnick) have no intention of giving him the money and send a team of killers to his hideout in Montana where Vizla has befriended his neighbor Camille (Vanessa Hudgens), who has taken a strange liking to him. They kidnap Camille to lure Vizla out. This creates a series of events leading to a brutal and bloody war between a hitman and his former employers.

Action films require a certain suspension of logic to make them enjoyable. It comes with the territory. You accept the fact that cars cannot parachute out of a helicopter and land perfectly where a GPS sends them in order to enjoy the cool landing sequences and race that immediately follows. “Polar” demands its audience to not only suspend their logic, but for you to enjoy the nonstop barrage of grotesque sequences that haunt virtually every scene.

Everything that makes an action flick enjoyable, heartwarming, or simply fun is missing in this film. The love of a father from “Taken,” the sense of family from “Fast and Furious,” the likable characters from “The Expendables,” the thrilling spy adventure in “Mission: Impossible,” or even the desire to avenge a beloved pet from “John Wick” is largely absent from “Polar.”

The film has no premise other than the protagonist and the antagonists stabbing, shooting, and even beheading one another from beginning to end. It simply clunks on from one horrific scene of violence and gore to the next with barely a plot to staple together a small sense of coherence.

Even the so-called protagonist is not someone you can root for or even like. We are expected to take it at face value that Mikkelsen’s character is capable of some acts of good based on conversations that he has with Hudgen’s character, but every attempt to humanize Vizla is ruined within a few minutes. He shows himself to be caring to his neighbor, then he is teaching kids how to murder someone with a knife. He adopts a dog only to shoot it for no reason. He shows compassion for a prostitute’s son, only to endanger his life and commit a horrible act of violence right in front of him.

“Polar” is an unpleasant eighties-style slasher film with an unlikeable protagonist disguised as an action film best skipped when it comes up in your Netflix queue.

Check out the movie trailer below: