Polar  (2019)

We've seen it before - the bad guy wants to quit the life, but he keeps getting pulled back in. The rookies try to take out the veteran, but the veteran is too good. A whirlwind of betrayals and bloodshed follow, and while fashion comes before function, it's still a fun ride.

Mads Mikkelsen is Duncan, "The Black Kaiser", the world's greatest assassin. The company he's employed by has a plan in which all assassins retire at age 50, and are granted a generous pension. There is a loophole, however, that says if the assassin is killed, the money goes back to the corporation. To save money, the plan is set to take out Duncan.

There is plenty of over-the-top bloodshed, which actually detracts from the idea that these are elite assassins. One would assume that while a lone gunman might attack in broad daylight, these trained professionals don't just walk up to a car in the middle of the street and start shooting. There is also a shocking lack of cleanup depicted, which I totally get meant nothing to the plot, but with the amount of detail they took to show how precise this group was, you'd expect to not leave behind dozens of corpses and blood and DNA.

After watching, I learned that this was based on a graphic novel, which explains the stylistic choices. The Black Kaiser looks perfect, the boss of the assassination organization is a straight comic book character, the other group of assassins are flashy and ridiculous, the violence is gory and extreme - it's awesome to look at, even if the story isn't anything revolutionary.

Speaking of the violence and gore, I'm typically desensitized to all of it. There are rare occasions where I'm still affected, and one of those occasions happened during this movie. It hits towards the end of the second act, where it literally becomes torture porn. Rather than frenetic pacing and bullets and explosions, things get much smaller, much more personal, and much more visceral.

There are a lot of holes in the plot, the sort of thing that maybe got explained more in-depth in the comic, but had to cut for the sake of a film. While the action and overall story were fun enough, those random bits of seeming non sequiturs and some of the stylistic choices of the director kept this from being really great.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Polar" a 6 out of 10.




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