I watched Polar. I didn’t like it.

* This post contains spoilers *


I love Mads Mikkelsen. In fact, when I say that I love Mads Mikkelsen, what I actually mean is that the man is a genius and that he probably is the greatest actor of his generation. I LOVE him. If I ever got to meet him, I wouldn’t be able to say anything else than “Fflbbfdgfd,” which would obviously translate to “Oh boy! I am so excited to be meeting you! I love your work and I think you’re really hot,” (to which he would most certainly reply “Who gave you this address?” before calling the security). I’ll watch anything he’s in, though I have a soft spot for independent Danish films, like the fantastic Adams Æbler (Adam’s Apple, 2005) or Mænd & Høns (Men and Chicken, 2015) in which you can actually see his extraordinary comedic range.

All the same, when I saw that Netflix had a new movie with Mads Mikkelsen in it, and that said movie was an adaptation of a comic, I was very excited. After negotiating with Jon, my partner (“Wanna watch Polar?” “Mmm K.”), I turned off the lights and got ready for some good Mikkelsen action.

It was a terrible idea.

I never thought I’d say that in my life, but the day has come: there’s only so much Mads Mikkelsen having bad sex with fake-breasted psychopaths you can take. I know, I know; it came as a surprise to me too. And it’s not just him having supremely awkward 70s Bulgarian porn-level sex; it’s everyone else in the film too.

Polar actually opens with a bimbo going down on a retired assassin in order to distract him while a sniper marks him, before three other killers arrive and finish him off. Once the guy is dead, four of the hitmen take off in a helicopter while the sniper vanishes into the nearby woods.

Which leads to many questions, such as 1) If you have a sniper on your team, isn’t he supposed to be good enough to dispense with the unnecessary bloodbath? I mean, surely the guy is able to aim for the head; 2) Why does that woman need to give her victim head in order to distract him from the sniper? The man was asleep just thirty seconds before that anyway, why not just shoot him then?; 3) Why does everyone gets a chopper ride home except the sniper? We’re just left to assume that he’s just an intern on his first day or something.

And it doesn’t get any better than this, because on top of the gratuitous sex (or whatever it is that they are doing and that was filed under “sex scene” by the production in a desperate attempt to attract Incels), there’s also the insane amount of violence.

Now, hear me out. I enjoy violence in movies just as much as the next Steven Seagal/Jason Statham fan. I grew up watching Bruce Willis throw Hans Gruber from the Nakatomi Tower and Macaulay Culkin torture an innocent duet of Jewish/Italian impoverished working-class men out of sheer spite, so trust me, I am not averse to a little blood. I mean, one of my favourite films is From Dusk Till Dawn, for Pete’s sake!

But Polar takes spilling blood to a whole other level — not that it is very creative in its way to do so, mind you; there’s nothing new under the sun, no. It’s just that there is WAY MORE blood than in say, your more violent Tarantino movies. Blood floods in epic proportions. Think ten thousand Amazon warriors synchronising their periods kind of blood, and you’d still be far from what you can see in Polar. And it was all a little too much for me.

And then there’s Matt Lucas. I generally enjoy Matt Lucas’ performances, because he’s a good actor to start with, and he generally brings a refreshing je ne sais quoi to any production he’s in. Except in Polar, that is. There, his acting somehow betrays a sort of very legitimate existential concern that can only summed up as a “why the f**k did I sign for this movie” type of anxiety. Special mention to the scene with the nail clippers (I wouldn’t want to spoil it for those of you who still want to see the film, but seriously, I have been nauseated each time I’ve heard bagpipes ever since). That thing is terrible.

And then you have the constant hyper-sexualisation of the female characters, except the one played by Vanessa Hudgens, because she’s the archetypal good girl and everybody knows that only sluts have consensual sex, so instead, there’s a very rapey feeling around her throughout the entire movie. Let me tell you that surprisingly enough, Polar does not pass the Bechdel Test.

So here we are. After almost two hours of watching the film, I have seen:

  1. Lots of bad sex;
  2. Mads Mikkelsen being tortured, losing an eye, being left for dead, tortured again, shot, stitched up and shot at again, then killing everyone;
  3. A severed head being flown through a window;
  4. Two nice landscapes of Alaska and
  5. One pretentious arthouse-like shot of Katheryn Winnick.

There’s also Richard Dreyfus, and I am very worried about him because I don’t know how he ended up in that mess of a movie.

All in all, if your idea of a good time is looking at Mads Mikkelsen’s naked butt, then go for it, but be prepared to spend many an uncomfortable moment trying not to vomit into your own mouth during the more disgusting scenes, both the allegedly steamy parts and the definitely perverse shots. And to think Netflix is considering the idea of making a sequel… It really makes you wonder.

Polar (2019). Directed by Jonas Åkerlund. Screenplay by Jayson Rothwell. With Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas. Based on the 2012 webcomic Polar: Came from the Cold by Victor Santos. Available on Netflix.


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All texts © Justine Houyaux. Trailer courtesy of Netflix on YouTube; heading picture courtesy of Pexels.com.
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