|Directed by||Jonas Åkerlund|
|Written by||Jayson Rothwell|
|Cinematography||Pär M. Ekberg|
|Edited by||Doobie White|
Polar is a 2019 neo-noir action thriller film based on the 2012 webcomic of the same name. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, the film stars Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick and Matt Lucas. It revolves around an aging assassin on the verge of retirement, who himself becomes targeted by his employer willing to cash in on his pension.
At an undisclosed location in Chile, a former employee of Damocles; an organization of assassins, is killed by a specialist hit team consisting of Sindy; decoy, Facundo; sniper, and assault team Alexei, Kurt, and Hilde.
Duncan Vizla, known as The Black Kaiser, is a Damocles employee nearing mandatory retirement on his fiftieth birthday. By making sizeable contributions to his company retirement fund, he is owed over $8 million upon his retirement day. Unknown to him, Mr Blut, owner of Damocles, plans to sell the company and is inflating its value by murdering its retiring operatives; thus acquiring all of their retirement fund by way of a clause in their contract.
Duncan lives in a remote town in Montana where he is gradually building a relationship with his neighbor Camille. He is haunted by flashbacks of his murderous past and attempts to cultivate a normal life, to no avail. After giving an ill-fated talk at a local school about foreign countries and combat, he buys Camille a pistol and tries to teach her to shoot but she seems disturbed by the weapon.
Duncan is pressured into accepting a final contract by Vivian, a common associate of his and Blut's. He travels to Belarus to fulfil the mission where he finds it was a setup to have him killed. Returning to Montana, Duncan is hunted down by Facundo's team, via his accountant and several fake addresses. After stopping to help Sindy with an apparently broken down car, the pair return to his house where they have sex. Duncan is trapped in his house by the team but he outmatches and kills them all except for Alexei, who activates "Plan B" and kidnaps Camille. Duncan discovers this from Alexei's girlfriend "Junkie" Jane and seeks the help of his old friend Porter, who instead betrays and drugs him.
Duncan awakens in Blut's mansion chained in place and is tortured for three days by Blut himself for killing Hilde, whom Blut was in a relationship with. At the same time, Camille is kept in a drug-induced incoherent state by Jane. Blut stabs Duncan with a slim knife and part of the blade snaps off on Duncan's titanium hip replacement. Blut also slashes Duncan's face and stabs him in the left eye. Overnight, Duncan uses the knife shard to pick the locks on his manacles and by morning he escapes the mansion, killing many of Blut's men. He travels to Jazmin, an old friend of his, who treats his wounds and supplies him with weapons.
Duncan calls Vivian and offers himself in trade for Camille, which she accepts, but on Blut's orders, she double-crosses him and sends a hit squad, accompanied by Alexei and herself. Duncan gives Vivian a chance to walk away but she refuses, and he uses remote sentries to kill the entire force and leaves a wounded Vivian to her fate.
Duncan returns to Blut's mansion where Blut's remaining henchmen flee rather than face Duncan. Blut awaits Duncan alone but is decapitated. Duncan rescues Camille and returns to Montana where he treats her.
When he awakens one morning he finds newspaper clippings of the murder of a family many years prior, which he recognized as a hit that he, himself, carried out, albeit with bad intel. The only survivor of the family was a young daughter, who grew up to be Camille. He finds himself at gunpoint and explains what happened to Camille before telling her to close her mind and pull the trigger; however, she spares him. Camille then asks Duncan to help her find out who ordered her father dead and he agrees.
- Mads Mikkelsen as Duncan Vizla
- Vanessa Hudgens as Camille
- Katheryn Winnick as Vivian
- Matt Lucas as Blut
- Josh Cruddas as Alexei
- Ruby O. Fee as Sindy
- Anthony Grant as Facundo
- Robert Maillet as Karl
- Fei Ren as Hilde
- Jill Frappier as Doris
- Inga Cadranel as Regina
- Pedro Miguel Arce as Pedro
- Johnny Knoxville as Michael Green
- Richard Dreyfuss as Porter
- Ayisha Issa as Jazmin
- Lovina Yavari as Junkie Jane
The film was first announced in October 2014 as a live action adaptation of Dark Horse Comics' Polar, developed by Dark Horse Entertainment and Constantin Film. A spec script for the film by Jayson Rothwell was purchased. In October 2017, Mads Mikkelsen signed on to star in the film. In February 2018, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick and Matt Lucas joined the cast with Netflix onboard to distribute the film.
Netflix started streaming the film on January 25, 2019, with Deadmau5 releasing the soundtrack on the same day.
The film's soundtrack album was released by Deadmau5 on January 25, 2019, through his record label Mau5trap. The soundtrack's release details were announced on January 8, 2019, along with the film's initial trailer. A single from the soundtrack album, "Midas Heel" was released on January 11, 2019, followed by the vocal version called "Drama Free" featuring Lights which was previously released on Mau5ville: Level 2. Several tracks of the score (such as "Somb", "Wilhelm" and "End") feature elements from Deadmau5's previous tracks from his seventh studio album While(1<2), as well as two new tracks named "Nosedive" and "Camilla", the former being a remake of his unreleased track "Rio", the latter being known previously as "Suite 02".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 19% based on 47 reviews, with a weighted average of 3.40/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 19 out of 100, based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
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Director Jonas Åkerlund has teased possible sequel ideas for the film. Adapted from the web series-turned-graphic novel from Spanish author Víctor Santos (author) owned by Dark Horse Comics, Polar is based on the first book in the series and stars Mads Mikkelsen.
During a Polar interview with Screen Rant, Åkerlund opened up about the possibilities of a live-action Polar sequel. Considering that the graphic novels offer more stories to tell within Duncan's life post-retirement, he explained that fans have more to look forward to if his first adaptation ends up warranting more entries. When asked if there were any elements from the source material that he would like to incorporate into potential sequels, he said:
"It's supposed to be based on the first book, but we kind of borrowed a little bit from the second and the third book as well. And we also added some stuff that aren't even in the book. So, we had the freedom of working with these characters as we wanted - and, yeah, the Polar story has way more to give. He [Silva] actually wrote five books, and there's a lot more stories in there; and the characters are great, so why not?"
While Åkerlund seems enthusiastic about returning for a sequel, the same can evidently be said for Mikkelsen as well. Though he didn't read the Polar books until he got the role, Mikkelsen used to be a "huge graphic novel collector." Before the world of comics and graphic novels became a mainstream medium, Mikkelsen collected his fair share roughly 20 years ago.
Though Åkerlund didn't specify what parts of the story he'd want to cover in potential live-action sequels, the plot of the graphic novel's sequel, Polar: An Eye for an Eye, is a clear extension of the film's cliffhanger ending. In fact, without spoiling the film's ending, the events of Polar serve as a perfect origin story for a potential franchise, satisfying one character arc in particular that would no doubt be deeply satisfying for fans. Whether or not audiences ultimately get to see it on film, however, remains to be seen.
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