Polar (2019)

Polar (2019), directed by Jonas Åkerlund, written by Jayson Rothwell, based on a graphic novel by Victor Santos, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Venessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas 

At times you see a movie that has a tremendous amount of potential, but it doesn't from a reason or another quite manage to deliver itself to the full extent that potential. Polar is just such a movie, a movie with potential unable to fully use that potential.

The following will contain spoilers

Duncan Vizla (Mikkelsen) is a top assassin, preparing to retire from the job with millions coming to his way as fees the company he has worked for has held for him. He is biding his time, waiting for the clock to hit 50 in a small town, away from everything, hidden from the world.

In this existence, away from the world of killers, he is laying low, spending his time drinking and watching movies until he notices that he has a new neighbour, a timid and awkward Camille (Hudgens). Reluctantly Vizla finds himself growing closer to the woman.



At the same time, the world of assassins has problems. Other retirees have met their untimely ends lately and Vivian (Winnick) contacts Duncan, telling him that the bossman Blut (Lucas) wants him to take care of issues against a hefty compensation.

Only a couple of weeks away from retirement, Duncan is reluctant to take the case, telling Vivian there are younger people out there to do the job. But the company doesn't take no for an answer and Duncan finally ends up in Belarus to kill a group of would-be assassins. There he realizes the case was a setup to kill him. It doesn't take a lot to figure out who is behind the whole thing: the bossman.

From there on, Duncan is hunted by a group of young and ruthless hitmen, who are willing to do everything it takes to take him down. Duncan is too good for that though, far too deadly, far too experienced. I guess you get the drift.



While I said the previous segment contains spoilers, it doesn't really, as the story rather by the numbers case, which by itself isn't a problem, especially because the tone of the movie is closer to a black comedy.

The cast is good. Mikkelsen is a good fit for a top tier assassin, slumming in the middle of the woods, Winnick does well as a cold liaison type and Hudgens plays well a role of a nervous wreck. Lucas hams up his role in a delicious manner like he was doing a character for Little Britain. It all fits and some of the more comedic scenes are well made.

The whole of the movie doesn't quite work though. While the script is good enough as are the actors, it is the direction that doesn't quite cash in the promise the premise the tale has. It feels, that Åkerlund couldn't fully get the movie out of the mould intact, making it feel like a bit misshapen. The structure is at times way off and this severely hurts the movie no matter if some of the scenes are well directed, fun and even clever. There just are too many scenes which look like outdated music videos.

It really is a shame Polar doesn't quite work. It has all the right elements in it, but in the end, perhaps the chef just wasn't up for the task.



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