An assassin on the verge of retirement is forced into one
last job, only to be betrayed and hunted by his old employer.
Directed by Jonas Åkerlund
Written by Jayson Rothwell
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas, Fei Ren, Ruby O. Fee, Robert Maillet, Anthony Grant
Based on the graphic novel Polar: Came from the Cold
by Victor Santos
One of the best qualities a film can have is focus. A singularly focused narrative can make or break a film, depending on many different variables. On the opposite side, too many plotlines often cause a film to collapse into itself like a black hole. It becomes confusing, tiring, or just plain hard to watch. That's the case with Polar, a film that actually makes the concept of "Mads Mikkelsen as an over-the-hill hitman" boring. This film has so many different ideas, and the filmmakers decided all of them were worth exploring. The hitman's pending retirement, the new squad of young assassins, the hitman befriending his young neighbor, the hitman's own revenge, and the hitman's neighbor's secret. All of this and more is shoved into this over-the-top, super gratuitous action thriller.
Mikkelsen plays Duncan Vizla, the best assassin who ever lived, according to almost everyone in the movie. Duncan is about to retire, and he's looking forward to it. But his employer doesn't want to have to shell out $8 million to Duncan as per his contract, so he sets up Duncan to be killed. Of course, it backfires, and now Duncan is hunting his employer. This is a great concept, though it's been done to death for years, but it's only the first half of the movie. The second half follows Duncan befriending and later trying to save his neighbor Camille (Hudgens), as well as an unearned twist that doesn't make a lot of sense. All of this is layered with a ridiculous level of gore and sex, which usually I don't mind, but in this case, it really fucks up the tone.
Polar is a weak movie that's bogged down by not knowing what story it wanted to tell. Mads Mikkelsen is great as usual, but Matt Lucas was painfully miscast as our villain and none of the supporting cast really pop. The story had me nodding off, and nothing about it stood out from every other "assassin past his prime" movie out there. Just watch John Wick again.