Mikkelsen shines in otherwise-lackluster Polar adaptation

Courtesy of Netflix
Mads Mikkelsen stars as Duncan and Vanessa Hudgens stars as Camille in Netflix’s Polar.

Neil Runge | Staff Writer

01/31/19

There are very few things more disappointing than a movie that seemed like it was going to be celebrity-filled and action-packed but turned out to be a confusing, gory mess. Netflix’s Polar is an example of that.

Based on a webcomic-turned-graphic novel of the same name, this film stars Mads Mikkelsen as an assassin named Duncan who’s in the process of retiring. It is a mashed-together, jump-cut-riddled disaster. Here’s the catch: if he gets killed before he’s officially retired, all the money he’s earned goes back to the agency he works for.

With that simple of a plot, it’d be easy to have a story crammed with action and violence. An aging agent versus a whole crowd of people who want his money could have easily drawn in action movie fans. It could have been a tale driven by outstanding actors and amazing camera work.

What Polar is, however, is a  movie that gives no explanation for anything really. Vanessa Hudgens’ character who lives next door to Duncan doesn’t seem to have any thought put into her. Nor do many of the other characters who names have either been changed from their possible source material counterparts or who never existed in the graphic novel to begin with.

The connections to the comic are loose at best, and at worst, just a nod to it; a two-hour long Easter egg.

On top of all of this are the confusing jump cuts between Duncan and the antagonists, a group of agents that work for the same company as Duncan. The time jumps that might not be time jumps because of the way it was edited makes it seem like time has passed when it might not have. There’s also the fact that almost all of the movie didn’t happen in the webcomic or the graphic novel lead to more questions asked than answered.

The comic was nothing but action with occasional sexual panels of half-naked women, albeit used in a positive way. It shows women taking their bodies and the stereotypes put against them to their advantage. The women in the comic use their bodies as a weapon. The film Polar, however, is made up of senseless violence, gratuitous swearing and just left me confused in my seat.

One of the only major positives is that Mads Mikkelsen gives an amazing performance. He nailed the role of a stoic and traumatized hero. Having played Hannibal Lecter, who’s a vastly different type of killer, it was nice to see him act as someone gruffer. Unfortunately, Mikkelsen was just surrounded by a cast of actors and characters that were subpar and one-note.

The other positive is that the color palette. The characters wear bright outfits — It doesn’t fall into the trope of many actions movies, where the palette is made of grays, dark blues and blacks, it’s a palette that can be seen in real life.

What Mikkelsen brought to the table was what made the movie watchable. He brought an expected amazing performance to a movie that otherwise would have just been nothing.

B-list at best, Polar is a movie to put on to see Mads Mikkelsen look thoroughly husky, to see him fight people and to see a few unknown actors try their best.

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