Duncan Vizla, nicknamed the Black Kaiser (Mads Mikkelsen), is a hired hitman who is a member of the Damocles organization. In two weeks, Duncan is to be fifty years old and, according to the rules of Damocles, he must retire. Moreover, since his pension was accumulated directly in the organization itself (a certain percentage of the amount of orders went to it), Vizla will have to receive a solid amount of eight million dollars.
Duncan was about to wait until he retires, sitting in his cabin in the woods of Montana, but Vivian (Kathryn Winnick), the right-hand man of Damocles’ boss Bluth (Matt Lucas), informs the hitman that someone has begun methodically shooting down retiring or retired members. organizations. Four people have been killed recently. The traces stretch to the United Statesns, and for Duncan, says Vivian, there is an order to eliminate a certain Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (Pedro Miguel Arce), who was involved in these murders.
Duncan refuses to take the order, but Vivian claims that the Black Kaiser is indispensable here. At the same time, the amount of the order doubles, and as a result, Duncan goes to the capital of Belarus, the city of Minsk: it was there that the vile Mexican dug in at the Minsk Plaza hotel.
Unbeknownst to Duncan, the murders of members of the retirement age organization are the work of Bluth himself, who wants to sell the company and has found a good way not to pay the pensions they earned to the killers. And now the order for Duncan received a whole group, consisting of specific scumbags.
Polar is the title of a webcomic by Spanish artist Victor Santos. A character called the Black Kaiser, a tough hitman with an eyepatch, first appeared in Santos comics in 2010. In 2011, Santos decided to make the Black Kaiser the main character of a separate comic, but it was decided to release this comic in a web format, which has much less restrictions compared to paper format, and in addition, publishing a comic in such a format allows you to quickly receive reader feedback. .
The adaptation of this comic was commissioned by the streaming service Netflix. Swedish music video director Jonas Åkerlund, who worked with Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Metallica, Fergie, U2 and other famous performers, sat in the director’s chair of the picture. However, he also had experience in full-length cinema: in 2018, Okerlund made the film Lords of Chaos, about the creation of a Norwegian black metal band. (This film, by the way, infuriated the musician Varg Vikernes, who was described in the film, but we will not discuss this here.)
The original webcomic is pure noir, the lighting scheme is somewhat reminiscent of Sin City: strict black and white with occasional splashes of orange.
However, the film is decided in a slightly different way. In style, it resembles a kind of mixture from “Sin City” with somewhat crazy color and staging solutions from “Adrenaline” with Statham. At the same time, when watching, the unforgettable “Commando” with Schwarzenegger immediately pops up in my head, and at the beginning of “Polar” there are downright specific intersections with this film: the retired protagonist living in a log cabin in the wilderness; someone begins to kill his colleagues (well, let’s say, co-killers), about which he is warned from the organization; the main character is attacked by a group of well-trained people; a pretty black girl helps the protagonist with weapons – in general, it seems, yes. (However, I note that further there everything develops in a completely different way.)
The part that refers to Duncan Vizla is staged in neo-noir. A laconic and almost unemotional hero with the brightest charisma, dark colors, a snowy forest, a lonely hut, ghosts of the past that pop up in a dream. However, the line relating to Bluth, his assistant Vivian, and a group of scumbags tasked with eliminating the Black Kaiser is such a completely crazy acid movie comic that contrasts so sharply with the style of Duncan’s line that, in theory, should cause the strongest cognitive dissonance in viewers, transforming into a question to the director: “Hey, Jonas, what, generally speaking, did you shoot something – neo-noir or an acid parody of an action movie?”
Apparently, this question arose for many, because the criticism literally trampled on the picture: at Rotten Tomatoes, the film’s rating was actually zero at first, and now it has a level of 19%, which, of course, is completely below the baseboard (for comparison, John Wick “, with which this film is compared on Rotten Tomatoes, a rating of 86%).
However, the cat Bagel and I, oddly enough, even liked such a seemingly incongruous mixture of genres. We just sort of got two films for the price of one.
The Duncan line is great. Mads Mikkelsen is a great actor with a powerful charisma. His character and story are closest in style to the original comic (or rather, the first season of the webcomic), which was about a retiring hitman who was framed. And purely staged, all the battle scenes with the Black Kaiser did not look caricatured and unrealistic at all (well, except for any purely cinematic conventions), and for the scene, when the Viking took his battle ax before leaving for Valhalla, special thanks to the director, it was very cool.
The story of Duncan’s relationship with Camilla, who lives in a house near Vizla, is well staged and played. Camille was played by Vanessa Ann Hudgens, and she and Mikkelsen made a good duet.
There were also quite a few interesting characters in the acid-comic section of the picture. Bluth was played by Matt Lucas of Little Britain, who is known to be “the only gay man in the village”. He made a comedy and played the fool with might and main, but this was exactly how it was conceived: the parrot colors of clothes, strange habits, a vile and mean character – it turned out quite funny.
The Vikings star Katheryn Winnick played Bluth’s closest assistant, and Bublik and I were tormented to count how many images her heroine changed throughout the film: she appeared in a new image in each new scene. And she is a good actress. The image of Vivian is the least comical and the most convincing of all this company.
A detachment of scumbags – that’s another set: a fiery red-haired United Statesn named Alexei, wearing sweatshirts with an inscription in United Statesn “Adidas”; Asian woman with strange make-up; a huge blunt brute; always very stylishly dressed, but absolutely not memorable sniper guy; and a showy, sexually incontinent beauty who is usually used as bait by the squad to make the victim lose his guard.
Yes, of course, we had a question, why, given such a powerful texture as Mads Mikkelsen, and a stylish base in the form of an original comic book, it was impossible to make a well-adjusted neo-noir action movie that both viewers and critics would surely like? Well, take this whole line with the Black Kaiser and Camilla (and the line is really good), leave the story from the comic book about how the retiring killer was set up and they want to kill, and he punishes those who set him up, add literally one or two brutal fight scenes, expand the line somewhat with how Duncan and Camille live in houses next door and from time to time collide in a nearby town, but at the same time make Bluth a mysterious “boss” who no one sees except his closest assistant, and to turn a group of scumbags into a detachment of laconic and well-trained specialists – it could turn out to be a direct bomb.
Also, no one bothered to make a second film, completely different – with Matt Lucas, a detachment of these freaks, acid colors and reckless bloody murders. Critics would hardly have liked this film, but on the other hand, from neo-noir with Mikkelsen, they would have dragged themselves like a commuter train through a metropolis. But for some reason, Okerlund mixed these two completely different stories, which caused the anger of critics.
But we, again, even liked it. Because here the absolute discrepancy between the characters of two different directions of the picture worked when they collided. The scene when the Black Kaiser, an absolutely tragic, dramatic and endlessly threatening figure, like a kind of god of retribution, goes to deal with Bluth, and Bluth – a kind of bun – bustles around in his caricatured office in his parrot suit, grabbing either a pistol or a sword, in a strange way, it looks really funny!
This is how the movie turned out. I fully understand the rejection of this approach by many critics and viewers, but Bublik and I usually express only our own opinion.
Yes, I must warn you that against the background of a fountain-bloody rubilov, shooter, mochilov with hot and cold weapons, scenes of torture and several scenes of sexual contacts, the main character repeatedly smokes in the frame, which, of course, is completely unacceptable, which is what we sign!
PS Hello with the dog “John Wick” – chic. What do you think, John Wick?!
Polar / Polar
Directed by: Jonas Okerlund Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Ann Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Fay Wren, Ruby Ou Fie, Matt Lucas, Robert Maillet, Anthony Grant, Josh Cruddas, Lovina Yavari, Pedro Miguel Arce, Richard Dreyfuss
Action thriller, USA-Germany, 2019, 118 min.