Mads Mikkelsen plays notorious hitman Duncan Vizla, AKA the Black Kaiser, who is only two weeks away from his 50th birthday and subsequent compulsory retirement (his agency isn't keen on employing killers past their prime). He's set to receive a handsome retirement package from the agency and is ready to settle down to a life of simplicity in his small mountain village, where the toughest decision he has to make is which mac and cheese to buy at the general store. He gets a dog. It... doesn't work out. He gets some fish. Those work better. He befriends his across-the-lake neighbor, a timid young girl named Camille (played by Vanessa Hudgens), who startles at loud, sudden noises but seems to prefer the isolation of their small town. Everything seems to be going fine, until Duncan learns that a group of goons have been hunting down soon-to-retire hitmen from his agency -- and he's next.
The film is based on Victor Santos' graphic novel series and webcomic he began in 2012, which was marked by a stylized black, white, and orange color scheme and complete lack of dialogue, as well as plenty of gory fight sequences. In contrast, the movie is stylized in a different way, with vibrant colors taking the place of the comic's muted palette and characters introduced with punchy split-screen collages and their names plastered across the screen in gothic tattoo parlor font. The movie knows it's trash, which is what makes it so much darn fun.
Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund -- who also directed the Norwegian black metal horror movie Lords of Chaos (which debuted at Sundance in 2018 and will finally arrive in theaters and On Demand in February) -- gives Polar a distinct, gross flair, and he delights in crackling gunfire and seeing how many bullets one body can take before it stops looking like a body altogether. Polar might be the most violent movie -- or the movie that delights the most in its own violence -- that Netflix has in its originals catalog. It's more Robert Rodriguez than Bourne: Most of the characters onscreen die in horrible, sometimes hilarious, ways. There's an extended torture montage during which the execution of Scottish hero William Wallace is described in graphic detail.