Mads Mikkelsen stars as Duncan Vizla, aka The Black
Kaiser, in the latest offering from Jonas Åkerlund – Polar. Based on the Dark Horse graphic novel “Polar: Came From
the Cold”, this is Åkerlund’s fifth feature film, after Spun, Horseman, Small Apartments
and another recent release – Lords of
Polar focuses on Vizla’s retirement from
being an assassin. He’s almost 50, and wants to relax and enjoy what life he
has left, however, his boss – Mr. Blut (Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame) – does not want to pay him what he is owed and
sends some of his younger assassins to take him out. Vanessa Hudgens is the
Black Kaiser’s neighbour, Camille, whom also gets dragged into the action, with
Vikings’ Katheryn Winnick on board as
Mr. Blut’s trusted but not often ignored advisor.
In the film, Mikkelsen (or maybe it’s Vizla) is a bit of
a bore as Duncan Vizla. This isn’t because he gives a bad performance, it’s
because Vizla is the opposite of the rest of the film. Polar is over the top and Vizla is a cold, calm and calculating
assassin. I have not read the comic so I am unsure if this is how Vizla is
supposed to be written but he seems to be a bit out of place here. In the right
film, the character would actually be great. Having said that, there is a
hilarious scene where he tries to teach a bunch of school kids a thing or two
about the world at the behest of his neighbour Camille. His world is completely
different to theirs, and what he has to say has no place in a school whatsoever.
Hudgens portrayal of Camille is well done. She is similar
to Vizla in the energy she provides to the film, only it’s clear that her
character is in some way suffering from some sort of psychological pain.
Knowing and feeling her pain, from the way Camille jumps at sudden noises and
movements, Hudgens gives the best and most honest performance in the film.
Winnick is good value as Vivian, she is commanding and direct but also playful,
while Matt Lucas a Mr. Blut really isn’t providing anything he didn’t in Little Britain – except for the blood
Polar is (mostly) a fast paced action film with
some great action for you to sink your teeth into. Epic shootouts that end up
with Duncan laying naked in the snow with a sniper rifle ready to take out his
would-be killers are fun to watch and they’re also super gory but, on some
level, it doesn’t deliver what it’s trying to. It seems to be trying to offer
this explosive energy that makes the film more fun, but the main character is a
dull, ageing killer for hire who had enough. These two things really clash and
it effects the dynamic of the film.
On top of this, the team of assassins that are used to
hunt Duncan down are annoying and make no sense. Duncan is a complete
professional – smart, skilled and ruthless, and while the younger assassins have
age on their side, as well as being ruthless, they seem to be unprepared in
most situations. They’re completely crazy, which is a part of the high energy
that Åkerlund seems intent on trying to present, but ultimately he fails to
deliver it. There are also a lot of torture scenes in the film, it isn’t for
the faint of heart, but the scenes themselves are done well. Mr. Blut is
completely callous in the way he goes about it. Day after day of cuts, punches
and whacks to his victim, you almost start to feel it yourself.
Keep an eye out for Johnny Knoxville as well, his character is funny, full of energy but in the end just can’t seem to keep it up – much like Polar itself. While it doesn’t quite deliver in the way it seems to intended to, the action scenes are great fun and how fast paced it is does make up for it just enough for Polar to be enjoyable.
Director: Jonas Åkerlund Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Matt Lucas Writer: Jayson Rothwell, (based on a graphic novel by Victor Santos)
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