Sindy, who desperately mimics Harley Quinn from the 'Batman' universe, seduces the target, Facunda the 'Cool Hand Luke' hunts from a distance, Karl the Uber-driver dispatches and drives for them, Alexei and Hilda lead the field action with apparently no super power except they put on some really off track costumes and makeup just to look cool
Imagine having a cocktail of “John Wick,” “Punisher,” “Leon: The Professional” and “Hitman” with all their signature features and flavours in one single character. “Hannibal” star Mad Mikkelsen offers his bizarre, blood-lusty and bullet-friendly R rated performance in the Netflix Original film, “Polar” (2019). Sounds like a perfect Thursday night weekend purgation with some munchies in hand? Yes, it has more bullet and blood in it than its dialogues. It also follows the stereotypical Hollywood action drama recipe: a formidable ex-assassin is betrayed, seeks revenge and resolves with inhuman struggle and suffering while coming to terms with all the trouble he tags along.
The story is quite timeworn, almost archetypal in characteristics: Duncan Vizla aka The Black Kaiser is wrapping up his g(l)orious career with The Damocles, a 5 star assassin company, and decides to settle down for good. While he withdraws his hitman job and arranges his post-retirement relaxations, his company started to hunt aged employees like him to cut down pension expenses. So, Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund sets Black Kaiser on a PUBG match with a group of young maniacs.
Sindy, who desperately mimics Harley Quinn from the “Batman” universe, seduces the target, Facunda the “Cool Hand Luke” hunts from a distance, Karl the Uber-driver dispatches and drives for them, Alexei and Hilda lead the field action with apparently no super power except they put on some really off track costumes and makeup just to look cool.
The collision and conflict with the Black Kaiser seems to be the only climax at first, but, that is not the case. The final boss, the owner of the Damocles, “loud mouthed” Mr Blut who wears a yellow suit most of the time, uses some expensive hand-wash straight from Saudi Arabia and brags a lot about his noble blood. He further cannot torture his prisoners without listening to classic bagpipes. All play and no acting make these characters dull and pretentious, if not entirely boring. I mean we do remember our respected Manna bhai (Dhallywood star SM Aslam Talukder Manna) when he attempted to copy Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Machine Man.” It is the closest analogy I can come up after watching the cast’s posey and showy display of vague badass-ness.
There are desperate and poor attempts in the film to produce something iconic like we have seen in the classic cult actions, instead we get only one thing: the rage of the mighty Black Kaiser and how it burns them all.
Well, so what good does “Polar” bring with it? The film starts with a drone shot in a spring setting and ends with another aerial shot in a winter setting! As the film ends, we get a hint of the sequel from an unresolved past incident and Mads Mekellesen’s promise to solve it. This travelling back to time can be a visual analogy to how the film goes from Spring to Winter which is a tricky backward move. Despite all these flashy characters and gimmicks, you cannot miss how brilliantly the director portrays the protagonist as an anti-hero.
The plot might be a cliché but the portrayal of the anti-hero, oscillating him from Thanos like figure to a helpless Bangladeshi remittance earner struggling at a Bangladesh airport deserves distinction. The Black Kaiser can sweep up an entire army and also suffers like a Bangladeshi undergrad student struggling for attendance.
This is the point where you might grow an interest in watching this action drama and must love how it suspends your disbelief with a harmonious balance between being a super human and a simple man. Within the first five minutes, “Polar” delivers a proper idea of what this film is going to be and that seems as an almost perfect exposition.
We all know how it feels when even after 30 minutes have gone by, we have no idea what we are going to see on screen but “Polar” does not feel like that at all.
So, if you are up for 100 gunshots and a betrayal per second, too lazy to use your brain on a Thursday night while craving for some hardcore action then grab some munchies and thank me later.
Abdur Rehman is a film and music enthusiast. He is a final-year honours student of English literature at Jahangirnagar University