"Polar" Review

Updated on May 14, 2019
Logan Daniel Williamson profile image

Part-time Film Critic | Graduate Student at Columbia University


Once this movie dropped, it quickly got a bad rap from critics, and the general public let it bypass their radar. I'm not going to die on this hill, but I don't think this movie deserved the hate it got.

Mads Mikkelsen is clearly the reason to see this movie. Whenever he isn't on screen, I check out, and the movie loses focus. He capitalizes on a half-baked script and an underdeveloped story. I like him as this deadly assassin. I think he can throw down when he needs to. For example, there is a well-choreographed fight scene in a hallway near the end of the film that uses hand-to-hand combat, and it is executed perfectly by Mikkelsen. In fact, I think that was the best part of the film.

There were a lot of plot holes and farfetched elements here that made for a rather disjointed script. During my first time watching it, I failed to realize just how unintelligible it was. I was having a fun time with it, and I shut off my critical faculties.

One of my peeves with it is that the screenwriters tried to show a man suffering from severe PTSD after living as a hit man for a black ops company, or at least someone with past mistakes that haunt him and weigh heavy on his conscience. It shows his descent into madness at times and abandons it at others, and the film ends up feeling all over the place with no sense of direction.

In addition to that, there is a scene in a classroom that is so unbelievably insane. How in the world would a teacher of a class full of schoolchildren allow this guy with more blood on his hands than Harold Shipman come be a guest speaker and/or demonstrator? But, perhaps the worst part is that I actually kind of enjoyed it. The scene took us through his travel logs showing us all the many places where he has remorselessly put a bullet through someone's skull. I am aware that it is bad and doesn't make any sense, but I enjoyed that scene. This, in a pinch, is my attitude toward the totality of this film.

One of the things I never enjoyed watching was Blut's henchmen. The group had no chemistry or acting abilities to elevate the poorly conceived script. Each scene with them went for an over-the-top cartoon-like cheesiness that never worked for me. It was annoying and I had half a mind to skip right through them. Scenes with them often went for shock value, which I identify as low-hanging fruit for screenwriters. Putting a corpulent man on screen and mowing him down with bullets is not good cinema. It's easy, or lazy, filmmaking and a grotesque spectacle at that.

Also, the hyper-sexualization of women in this movie is extremely bad in this movie, and although it might cause some smite in some of you animalistic men out there, I'm tired of seeing that in my movies.

I didn't mind the torture porn scene. I've never been the most avid fan of that stuff, but I thought that was fine. I get that that is also shock value, but I gave that more of a pass, because I thought it built to something great at the end. Out of that came a plot device that I thought bridged scenes rather well.

All in all, I had fun with this movie, but it certainly has its myriad flaws, inconsistent tonal shifts and share of scenery-chewing actors. However, there was some technique on display here in terms of visuals, and Mads Mikkelsen is one hell of a screen presence.

Rating: 4/10

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    © 2019 Logan Daniel Williamson


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