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Polar

Year: 2019
Production Co: Constantin Film
Director: Jonas Ã…kerlund
Writer: Jayson Rothwell/Víctor Santos
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hugdens, Matt Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Johnny Knoxville, Ruby O Fee

I might have been subconsciously primed by the name Dark Horse in the opening credits (which I know is a comic book label but didn't twig to begin with), but this movie just about screams 'comic book' in every aspect, from the framing and colour scheme to the premise.

Using that oft-trod device of the professional company of assassins, it introduces Mads Mikkelsen as Duncan, one of the best of them. Duncan is just weeks from retirement, but he doesn't realise that the company has a policy of offing its own operatives just before it has to pay them out in order to save money.

He just wants to settle down in his wooded cabin in the snow and keep his head down, but Damocles, his employer, sends a squad of their best after him. They visit his various properties, slaughtering their way through four states before finally tracking Duncan down to his snowy home, where he's befriended a young local woman, Camille (Vanessa Hugdens).

While they're no match for Duncan's skills, Damocles, led by its portly and effeminate leader Blut (Matt Lucas), snatches Camille to use as a bargaining chip so it can draw Duncan out of the shadows.

After a blistering assault on Damocles forces, Duncan is sold out by an old colleague (Richard Dreyfuss in a weird role) and finds himself in Blut's clutches. But even chained to a ceiling to be tortured over the course of several days Duncan is a formidable enemy, and they all better hope he doesn't get loose...

It's incredibly stylish, all bright primary colours and hyper-stylised action. Like a comic book it's also all surface, the merest plot onto which to graft a bright, flashy artifice full of movement and blood. While it might please your inner art director (or teenage boy, owing to gratuitous bloodshed and occasional sex), there's nothing groundbreaking – it's every inch a comic book on screen rather than a movie in the strict sense.

Mikkelsen's grizzled bloodhound expression coupled with his stoic skill as a killer balances out the more lurid, trashier elements, but it doesn't in any way restrict them. It's unashamed, bloody camp.

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