January 29, 2019

Polar (2019)

Netflix has been making more and more and more original content over the past few years. The first original Netflix movie was back in 2015, being Beasts of No Nation, and now the streaming service has an incredible number of original movies, reality shows, animated shows etc. But, with quantity does not always come quality. While some of their products get critical acclaim and award nominations(2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), others are considered so shitty that they achieve the landmark 0% on Rotten Tomatoes(2015’s The Ridiculous Six). Now, full disclosure – I have yet to watch Ballad, and I’ve been avoiding Ridiculous – but Polar seems to fall somewhere in between these two.

The movie itself hit, at least my field of view, with a very
interesting and intriguing trailer. The idea of a dry comedy mixed
with assassin play brought up excitement. Could this be another
Smokin’ Aces? Or something akin to Shoot ’em Up? However, it seems
that Polar fell victim to one of the most common issues with movies
that lack a universally recognized director. The trailer made it feel
entirely different than the end product. The trailer, showing stylized
dark action at it’s finest, does not line up at all with the end
product. Sure, some of the humor is still in the movie of course – you
can’t change a funny line into being something else. But the film
itself is a much more melancholy experience than an action filled romp
into the ridiculous.

Polar suffers in a few areas. The pacing of the plot feels extremely
rushed in certain parts, but drags on and on at others. The
rollercoaster of timing makes it very hard to stay in the groove of
the film; this is only worsened by the introductions of very, very
different and odd characters only to have them meet their demise
within two minutes to help the film keep up on body count; and
addition to that, the dips into mindless nudity & over-sexualized
women gets old after a few minutes. But, in the moments where the plot
works – it works. This is not going to be the dawn of a new franchise
for anyone who was involved, but it feels like that may have been the
intention based on the film’s closure.

The saving grace of this film is simple: Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa
Hudgens. Both as individual characters and their on-screen
interactions are what make this movie decent. Sure, Mads is a cliché,
‘I’m too old for this’ assassin – but he plays the character
perfectly. He is the Black Kaiser. But the standout for me in Polar
was Hudgens. Her damaged, broken and tragic character is what kept me
interested from start to finish – and I overall enjoyed the film. Not
enough to watch it on repeat, but enough to not feel like I wasted my

Polar is far from a terrible film, but it is equally far from being a
good one too. Despite some good action sequences and a good pair of
leads, one can’t ignore the excessive issues. Sadly, Polar was less
than the sum of it’s parts. You’re a fan of the leads or movies like
Smokin’ Aces, then this movie is likely worth a singular watch from
time to time. But, if you go in with the expectations I had from the
trailer you’ll be let down.

Polar gets a C-

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 12%
Directed by Jonas Akerlund
Written by Jayson Rothwell
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens & Richard Dreyfuss

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