Polar is a highly anticipated film based on the critically acclaimed independent series of graphic novels by Victor Santos. Mads Mikkelsen plays the Black Kaiser, an assassin forced out of retirement when his ex-employer hires a colorful cast of young contract killers. Can the film endear itself to longtime fans of the comic while also reaching new audiences?
The plot follows the very standard action movie revenge formula complete with a double-crossing evil organization and a kidnapped damsel. What differs is the pacing. The inciting incident for revenge doesn’t occur until halfway through the film. The set-up, though entertaining, takes too long and most of the action is compressed into the latter half of the film.
Fans of the comic will have their fill of hyper-stylized action and grindhouse sexploitation. There were many scenes that made my jaw hit the floor and would have probably been cut from a mainstream film. It’s refreshing to see a vision that is so uncompromising and uncensored.
Typically, action movies try to paint their protagonist in a heroic light. In Polar however, the Black Kaiser is just as coldblooded as any of the assassins trying to kill him. Mikkelsen plays a character who’s equally comfortable slaying his opponents with laser-guided machine guns or a medieval battle axe.
The Polar film managed to capture what the comics did so well and delivered a visceral movie with ice cold humor. All the character performances are a blast especially Matt Lucas’ wonderfully detestable lead villain.
The visual style of director Jonas Åkerlund makes even the title fonts a treat to watch. While I would have liked to have seen the Black Kaiser in action earlier in the film, the story is far from over and I’m down to see the next installment.