POLAR (2019)

  • Release Date: 25/01/2019
  • Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas
  • Director: Jonas Åkerlund

Polar is based on a 2012 webcomic and series of graphic novels written and illustrated by Victor Santos of the same name. Damocles is a professionally managed conglomerate of assassins that gives out retirement packages to its employees after they attain the age of 50years. However, there is a catch. If the employee dies due to natural or unnatural causes during his retirement, Damocles doesn’t have to pay anything. This is a chink in the armor of the employees that Blut (Matt Lucas), the owner of Damocles plans to exploit as he plans to sell of his organization. He makes an A-Team of his best and youngest assassins and sends them against the recently retired to kill them off one by one. Duncan Vizla aka Black Kaiser (Mads Mikkelsen) is fourteen days away from his retirement and Blut orders a hit on him using Vizla’s old associate Vivian (Katheryn Winnick) as a facilitator.

Duncan retires to a snow-covered sleepy town where he develops a warm relationship with Camille(Vanessa Hudgens), a girl who always seems to be on the edge from something in her past that is haunting her. The A-Team soon catches up with Vizla and all that he has ever cared for comes under serious threat. Vizla bludgeons his way through most of it but ends up in Blut’s mercy when Camille is kidnapped by Blut and Duncan is wrested of his ability to fight by an old associate of his as he tries to rescue the girl. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative.

Polar is the perfect rendition of a comic book to a film. I have complained time and again about the lack of accentuated colors and a washed down approach to the visuals that the Marvel and DC films have taken over the years which hasn’t particularly gone down well with me. Polar takes this issue head-on and in so many ways shows us exactly how to approach the over the top content of a comic book and present it in a manner that is not only brilliant to look at but also makes you believe in its eccentricities, sheer lack of reason, logic or for that matter the rules of gravity and how far the human body can be stretched.

The action sequences are crazy good. There is hand to hand combats. There are gunfights. There is even a slaughter using machine guns that are controlled by a strange contraption that resembles a glove. Every action sequence is different from the other and that helps in keeping them interesting as well as affecting. One has to agree that there is very little that is left to be seen in terms of imaginative action set pieces. However, as I sat through the action of Polar, I didn’t look back on similar fights that I had seen in John Wick. The action here is similar in nature but one has to agree that it is ripped out of the pages of a comic book that was written well before Mr. Reeves walked out in his Tuxedo and blew us away with his style and gusto. Suffice is to say that the action here is brutal, organic, dripping with blood and yet has a poetic and well-choreographed feel to it.

Mads Mikkelsen is oh! so good. He has a knack for roles of this type and he always brings his A-Game to the table. What I loved about his act here was the fact that it is not just about the action and being bad-ass. We have a man here who is good at what he does but isn’t proud of his past. The fact still remains that his job is all that he knows and can think about, a fact that is beautifully used in a sequence where Vizla is forced to share his life’s experiences with kids at a primary school. The manner in which he gets closer to Camille also tells us a lot about how lonely he is and how much he craves for quality relation. He is also shown to be perfectly comfortable with one night stands and quick shags that doesn’t let us look at him as one who would be a romantic. All these elements combine to make an intriguing and wholesome character out of the man that has enough depth. Add to that the devilish charm and physicality that Mikkelsen brings to it and you have an absolute drool-worthy hero to lead the proceedings.

I really enjoyed Matt Lucas’, Mr. Blut. He is everything that a true comic book villain is all about. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel of his act with that of the character of “Yellow Bastard” in one of the Sin City comics. He gave a very similar vibe to that. I loved the way they dressed the man and the repulsive physical aspects of him. He is quite a character too. Katheryn Winnick is the perfect vamp. You know from the beginning what she is swinging at and hence leaves no room for any character arcs but her act is immersive. Vanessa Hudgens is apt. The A-Team of assassins is an eclectic mix of characters. I loved the character of Sindy (Ruby O. Fee) out of them and I believe that is going to be the case with most other men and boys. The girls and women, on the other hand, will love Facundo (Anthony Grant).

The cinematography of Polar is just brilliant. I had a few minor issues with the handheld camera movements but sans that the visuals, the action and the mood that the visuals communicate to the viewer remain spot on. The editing helps too as there are just enough breaks between actions to not make it feel overwhelming. Some of the emotional scenes are given enough time to roll along and make an impact. That is generally not the case with films of this nature. The background score is befitting.

My only issues with the film were with its tepid finale and somewhat generic material. I was waiting for some real fireworks after Vizla escapes from Blut’s captivity but he makes such easy work of annihilating Blut’s gang that I felt deprived of some quality villain-bashing. It cannot be ignored that the plot and theme of the film have been done to death. We have seen innumerable similar films in the past years and this would have been a far lesser film had it not be so well executed, outrageous and well acted. Mads Mikkelsen quite frankly adds a lot to the film and is so convincing that he would make many forget the underlying short-givings of the plot and the nature of the content.

Having said all that, I still had a great time with this film and I believe that will be the case with every action-adventure fan who is willing to take the film for what it is and doesn’t try to be overly critical of it’s over the top content and execution. This is a comic book film in its truest form and I loved it for that.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)      

 

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