Tale about retired killer is filled with sex, drugs, cursing
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Polar is based on the Dark Horse graphic novel Polar: Came from the Cold, and, in graphically-violent detail, meticulously records merciless assassinations, sadistic torture, and nonchalant mayhem. While the vibe is comic at first, an episode of malicious, bloody, and closeup torture is dead serious and nearly impossible to watch for anyone with a normal empathy mechanism and ordinary tolerance for pain. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," c--t," and "ass." Heroin and cocaine use are shown as well as alcohol and cigarette consumption. A man and woman are seen naked, having sex in numerous positions. Breasts and posteriors are clearly visible. A man is shot dead while having sex by a swimming pool. His Viagra-assisted erection, inside his pants, withers after the shooting. Bare-breasted call girls service men in a large hotel suite.
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What's the Story?
In POLAR, the Black Kaiser, also known as Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen), is a legendary assassin-for-hire, the best of the best at his assassination agency, Damocles. When investors seek to buy the business, the owner, Blut (Matt Lucas), wants to clear the books to facilitate the sale. Mandatory retirement age is rapidly approaching for Duncan, and that means a pension pay-out of $8 million, an expenditure Blut wishes to avoid. The answer? Send younger agents to kill the guy and eliminate a pesky expense. A cat-and-mouse game between the wily master executioner and Blut's operatives follows. When an old friend double-crosses Duncan, he's handed over to Blut, who is eager to bloodily torture Duncan for the four days before he turns the Big Five-Oh. The tone of the movie changes when someone from Duncan's past (Vanessa Hudgens) shows up and highlights a surprising facet of his personality.
Is It Any Good?
This extremely violent thriller isn't for everyone. Gallons of fake blood were required for the filming of Polar, and those not prepared for exposure to such excesses might best avoid it, despite the movie's sporadically high-entertainment moments -- especially during its first, quirkiest sequences. In tone, this resembles Pulp Fiction more than it does Goodfellas and other violence-fests, because early segments are played for comedy. The film takes a turn that will suit a more sadistic palate at around an hour in, when close-ups of piercings, gougings, and other graphically-horrific inflictions are showcased alarmingly, parts of it barely watchable.
Mikklesen, whose persona recalls a mix of The Rock with Clint Eastwood, is riveting as Duncan, a killer with a soul, made out to be more enigmatic than anyone who kills for a living has any right to be. It would be most fitting for someone as violent as he has been to meet an equally violent comeuppance, but the script and his performance keep you rooting for him.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the filmmakers' attitude about violence. What cues suggest early parts of Polar are meant to be viewed as funny?
Some characters appear to have more depth than might have been suspected earlier on. How do the filmmakers gradually reveal information about them? Does the seriousness at the end alter our perceptions about the movie's beginning?
How much violence is too much for your family?
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2019
- Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Kathryn Winnick, Matt Lucas, Vanessa Hudgens
- Director: Jonas Akerlund
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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Raw and bloody. For adults.
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For kids who love thrills
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