Photo courtesy of Movieweb.com | Netflix’s original movie Polar, an adaptation of a comic book of the same name, intrigues viewers with its action-driven plot and sexually charged scenes. It combines thrilling adventures, sinister assassins and vindictive torture to excite and enthrall many comic book and action film enthusiasts.
Netflix originals are always hit or miss – usually a miss. Netflix doesn’t need to worry about sending their productions to theatres or giving them airtime, so they’re incentivized to make whatever project comes to them and hope it’s a surprise hit like Stranger Things. This system, more often than not, produces experimental yet mediocre products. But once in a while, it produces something that makes it all worth it. Polar is an example of one of those productions.
This is one of those movies that critics hate but audiences love. On Metacritic, Polar has a dreadful 16/100 critic score, yet an amazing 91 percent audience score. Both scores make sense if you look at the film from different perspectives. From an artistic standpoint, this movie does not do much to further the medium of film. It has a cliché “aging assassin” plot with no particularly new takes on the genre, and it’s got more sex scenes than it’s got significant themes. But the question you have to ask when considering watching this movie is what you really care about when watching a movie. Because if you just want a movie that will purely entertain you nonstop, you’re most likely going to side with the audience score.
At almost every point in this movie, you will either be engrossed in the perfectly choreographed fight scenes or you’ll be laughing at the dark absurdity of the world the characters inhabit. It’s hard to pin down one genre to describe this movie because it has action that blows an average summer blockbuster out of the water and humor that genuinely works better than that of a lot of pure comedy films. And these two aspects fit together perfectly, with the absurdly intense action perfectly complimenting the absurdly dark comedy. It feels so tightly crafted as to make sure you’re always feeling some extreme emotion all the time.
The manipulation of emotion is another thing that makes this movie perfect. You know you’re making a bad movie if you make the bad guy more likable than the good guy. This movie doesn’t have that problem in the slightest. Mads Mikkelsen’s performance is low-key, but you can’t help but love the calm yet ever-badass aging assassin he portrays. The antagonists, on the other hand, are impossible not to hate, and every scene with them makes you more excited to watch Mads Mikkelsen teach them a lesson. The way it’s done is pretty interesting too. For example, the first few times you see the main antagonist he’s always rubbing himself with a grossly large amount of ointment. It’s repulsive, which is exactly how you are supposed to feel about this guy. Because this is how he’s introduced, you will instinctively be repulsed whenever he’s on screen. It’s very impressive the way this film uses visuals to manipulate emotions.
Obviously, this movie isn’t perfect: it’s overly sexual at times and the ending leaves a lot to be desired. But even those aspects still fit in with the rest of the movie. I think that’s the perfect way to describe this movie: it fits. The director knew exactly what he wanted to create and how he would create it, and if you’re a fan of movies that don’t take themselves too seriously and focus on providing pure entertainment, then this movie is for you.
By: Aidan Callahan | Staff Writer