By Leah Greenblatt
January 30, 2019 at 01:24 PM EST
Jasper Savage/Netflix


  • Movie

The line between pulp drama and pure camp isn’t so much blurred as it is blithely stomped all over in Polar, a Saturday-morning-cartoon splatter of sex, violence, and seemingly endless close-ups of bouncy, glistening female body parts. (Though, in the spirit of fairness, director Jonas Åkerlund gives star Mads Mikkelsen his share of equal-opportunity nudity too.)

The vibe is budget Suicide Squad, and the script could have been scrawled in Crayola: A group of improbably attractive assassins are sent to take down one of their own (Mikkelsen) before he reaches retirement age and collects his lucrative pension.

But their target, known to his leather-clad peers as the Black Kaiser, is too clever and experienced to go easy; the Red Cross would weep for all the heedless, highly viable blood spilled as he works his way through a gauntlet of failed attempts on a life he hardly appears to care about otherwise.

The only thing that consistently holds the Kaiser’s interest is a skittish young woman (Vanessa Hudgens) who recently moved into one of the few homes near his remote Montana hideaway.

Åkerlund — the Swedish mastermind behind tastemaking music videos for the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift — has jittery, high-gloss style to spare. But the primary-colored nihilism of his storytelling feels amateurish and ultimately exhausting; a gleefully unhinged teenage-boy dream that aims only for hard, shiny surfaces, and stays there. C–


  • Movie
release date
  • 01/25/19
  • Jonas Åkerlund
Complete Coverage
  • Polar