It is almost as if someone had the idea ‘what if we make John Wick, but really bad’ and that’s how we ended up with Netflix’s new neo-noir action film, Polar. Originally a web comic that was then released as the graphic novel Polar: Came From the Cold by Dark Horse Comics, Polar is now a feature length film.
But maybe it just should have been left as a comic. Director Jonas Åkerlund is the man tasked with bringing to life the stylish ultraviolence from Jayson Rothwell’s script, and they struck gold by getting Mads Mikkelsen on board to star as nearly retired hitman Duncan Vizla, known as “the black kaiser”, because Mikkelsen is one of the best actors working today. But with a script as devoid of life and charm as this there’s really not much for him to go on. Mikkelsen really does his best, but everything around him just feels bland, or worse.
Duncan is an assassin for a company called Damocles, who force their employees to retire at 50, but have been killing them off before they can reach 50, in order to claim their pensions for themselves. The sinister head of Damocles, Mr. Blut, orders a hit on Duncan, who is attempting to retire to a quieter life where he meets Camille, played by Vanessa Hudgens.
And that is where some of the problems Polar really start, despite Hudgens doing a good job in the role, the screenplay just doesn’t give Camille a lot of character right up until the end of the film, and this makes it hard to believe that this is a friendship that Duncan really cares about. And that first half of the film before the action really starts to drag a lot.
And there is one very cool action sequence, where a team of assassins tries to take out Duncan in his home, but that is really the only memorable one, Åkerlund doesn’t have the directorial flair of some of the best action directors around at the minute, which will make it hard for Polar to stand out amongst all the other action films these days.
But what really makes Polar stand out as laughably bad is Matt Lucas’ performance as Mr. Blut. It is one of the strangest performances that I’ve seen in a film since Tommy Lee Jones in Mechanic: Resurrection, and certainly not in a good way. Lucas has shown himself to be a very good actor, particularly as Nardole in Doctor Who, so this was a really disappointing performance from him.
If you have Netflix then Polar won’t cost you anything to watch, but even then it’s a big waste of 2 hours of your time, and certainly not an enjoyable waste of time, just rewatch John Wick instead.