'Polar' - Movie Review

The critical consensus at Rotten Tomatoes says "An action thriller starring Mads Mikkelsen as the world's most dangerous assassin should be terrifically entertaining, but Polar proves it's possible to ruin anything if you try." I looked at that and thought "Nah, Mads Mikkelsen as a hardcore assassin? That's got to have some good stuff in it!" I'm here to tell you that Rotten Tomatoes is entirely correct.

Mikkelsen is Duncan Vizla, an assassin who works for a company called Damocles. Vizla is days away from his automatic retirement at the age of 50, and the company owe him $8 million in retirement money. (The movie is already on shaky grounds, with a firm of assassins having a standard retirement plan ...) We are immediately informed that the company is sending younger assassins to killing older, retired assassins so that their retirement money goes back into the company.

The first half of the movie is split between Vizla's quiet life in the place he's planning to spend his retirement and the young and only semi-competent hit team sent to all his properties to kill him (and failing to find him). The only good scene in the entire movie is at the mid point when they finally catch up to Vizla. It's all downhill from there.

We're treated to a ten minute torture scene: in most movies, even action/revenge flicks like this one, the scene fades as the torturer approaches - maybe we hear fading screams. It's all implication. But no: in this case, someone is tortured, and we get to see several minutes of it. We're assured this goes on for three days. Fans of torture porn might like this - I'm not sure, since it's not my thing ... but I suspect this isn't even specific enough for them. We see lots snipping motions, hear a lot of grunting, see a lot of blood. Not my idea of fun.

And then there's the big twist about the girl he's befriended at the end. (No spoilers, I promise. But after reading this, why would you care? Why would you think about watching this?) They get partial points for a twist I didn't remotely see coming - but only partial because it's kind of ridiculous. And then they set up a sequel, on staggeringly improbable grounds. Couldn't you have spent your energy on making a better movie instead of on manoeuvring yourself into a sequel?

Even Mikkelsen's performance is only "okay" in this piece of shit. Vanessa Hudgens as "the girl" proves herself particularly bad when the twist landed and she totally didn't sell it. And everyone else is just over-the-top, particularly Matt Lucas as "Blut," the big-bad company owner. The blame for this most probably goes to the director rather than the actors - it's particularly obvious in the case of Lucas, who's so ridiculous that the best actor in the world couldn't have sold that crap the script called on him to say.

Believe Rotten Tomatoes on this one. Stay away.