An Enjoyable But Tonally Inconsistent Film
Armed with a dark humour and an abundance of gratuitous violence throughout, Polar throws out a tightly worked script and replaces it with an action-packed thrill ride instead. A grizzled Mads Mikkelsen, who plays a John Wick-esque figure here, is the proverbial glue that holds everything together but the blend of bloody violence, slapstick humour and explicit sexual scenes don’t always hit the right tone the film is going for.
Counting down the days until retirement, the story revolves around Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen) whose intent on hanging up the gun for good until a phone call pulls him back in for one final job. It’s at this point where we’re introduced to Duncan’s crazed boss who calls forth a gang of assassins, whom we meet during the early scenes of the film, to kill Duncan before paying out his retirement fund. This in turn helps the company remain profitable without having to pay out a large sum of money for the infamous assassin.
The motives, for the most part, make sense and what ensues is a film split into two halves. The first introduces us to the gang of assassins targeting Duncan while he tries to adjust to a normal life while the second sees a resurgence of the cold killer persona Duncan was trying so hard to leave behind.
Throughout the film, echoes of both Quentin Tarantino and Chad Stahelski’s John Wick can be felt here. The plot feels like a strange hybrid of both styles mixed with dark humour that has varying degrees of success. The comedy doesn’t always hit either, especially with the caricature gang of assassins chasing after Duncan, while the frequency of sexual scenes feel a little over the top. The best moment of the film involves Duncan visiting a school and this dry, emotionless style of humour works perfectly. It’s just a shame that these moments are few and far between in favour of a more outrageous style, designed to maximise the shock factor.
If you go into Polar looking for a mindless slice of action with a sprinkling of humour and full of over the top characters, you’re sure to have a good time. The plot is as formulaic and violent as you’d expect from a film like this and despite a limited script to work with, Mads Mikkelsen absolutely owns his role. Matt Lucas does an equally decent job as the boss too, although his incredulous mannerisms and explicit language may not be to everyone’s taste. Personally, his theatrical performance nails the tone this film was so obviously striving for but oftentimes the rest of the film isn’t quite on the same wave length.
Still, when you compare it to other films in this genre, Polar fails to establish itself beyond its mildly entertaining, violent action scenes. There’s a nicely worked twist near the end and Duncan’s empathetic past does help but the constant jumps between serious and dark comical slapstick don’t always mesh well. If you go into this one with low expectations you’re sure to have a good time but this is likely to be more of the biggest Marmite films of the year – you’ll either love it or really hate it.