Polar – A Vortex of Pain

Rating (2 out of 5)

Summary: If you are subscribing to Netflix for the original movies, cancel your subscription, as they stink. “Polar” battles with “IO” and other Netflix stinkers. “Polar” delivers an inconsistent tone and the story has some serious flaws, which I am more than happy to point out. The action scenes were fun though.

Plot: Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen) is forced to retire as an assassin. His company owes him an $8M payout. To avoid the payout, the boss, Blut (Matt Lucas) orders his crew to kill Duncan.

Detail:  “Polar” starts with a lighthearted cartoonish/Deadpoolish style in the approach to introducing characters. The action sequences, which are entertaining, are reminiscent of John Wick. Instead of endless headshots, there are broken arms. “Polar” steals and borrows from other films, and in doing so, fails forming its own identity.

The ever-shifting tone confused me. One minute he is in Belarus, kicking ass and sleeping with a prostitute, and then the next scene he is having a quiet lunch with his neighbor Camile (Vanessa Hudgens) in Wyoming. Then when we would cut over to Blut and Vivian (Katheryn Winnick) the scene had a comic book stylizing.

SPOILER ALERT!! Blut captures Duncan because suddenly the ultra-paranoid Duncan lets down his guard with an old acquaintance. Let’s give the writers this as a method to move the story. Blut tortures Duncan for 3 days, rather than just killing him. Blut’s priority of removing Duncan, his largest liability, was established clearly at the beginning. Everything was about money. Blut would have iced Duncan right there and then, and not tortured him.

A cool aspect of Duncan’s character is he uses his phone only for 10 secs to 30 secs before hanging up. As soon as he hangs up, he destroys the sim card, inserts a new sim card and resumes the conversation. He uses the technique to call Vivian multiple times, a well-established routine. Later, he sets up Vivian by letting her track him because he stays on the phone for too long. Vivian should have known Duncan designed a trap for her based on their prior conversations.

Vivian has warned Blut about Duncan. However, when she confronts Duncan, she does so head-on and carelessly. She did not have men approach from behind or the sides, or have a squad go into to gas him. Her teams haphazard approach to securing Duncan contributed to the inconsistency that hurt the film.

I could let Blut not killing Duncan on the spot pass. But then the Vivian setup is where the movie finally lost me. The writers were lazy and focused more on the cool action sequences rather than a sensible story.

Actually, I would have been happier if the big reveal at the end of the film, happened midway. Then solving the new mystery could become the goal of the film. Then had Vivian and Blut set the hit for personal reasons and not for business would have been a more interesting 2nd half of the film. Duncan and Camile teamed up in a father/daughter tandem, I would have enjoyed that.