In its efforts to totally change the way people consume film and television, Netflix has begun to create a number of its own movies and has released them directly onto the platform. Some of these, such as the recent Bird Box, have been successful, while many others have been total flops. Polar is the next offering and will be available to stream at the end of January. The film features some well-regarded actors and has been described as Netflix’s answer to John Wick. But will the movie directed by Jonas Akerlund be a hit like the Keanu Reeves’ action adventure?
What can Viewers Expect From the Film?
Action fans are getting pretty excited about the prospect of Netflix’s new thriller about a retired hitman who has to get back in the game in order to survive. The film’s protagonist, Duncan Vizla, is described as the world’s best assassin trying to settle into a quiet life after giving up killing. Vizla’s former employer considers him a liability, though, and tries to have him killed. Vizla, therefore, has to go head to head with a group of younger assassins in order to stay alive. This sounds like a winning formula, as old methods are pitted against modern ways. The movie is based on the Dark Horse graphic novel, Polar: Came from the Cold, by Victor Santos.
The fact that the film has been compared to John Wick should fill viewers with enthusiasm. The 2014 movie directed by Chad Stahelski was a major hit, and raked in $89 million worldwide against its modest $20 million budget. That film was also about a trained killer on a rampage and has been described by many as Reeves’ finest hour. With other high-octane action movies like 2008’s Taken being surprise successes and reaching high viewership figures, there is every chance that Polar can hit the same heights.
The Cast Should Draw in Viewers
One of the major pulling points for a lot of Netflix content is big name actors in the starring roles. Sandra Bullock was a huge draw for Susanne Bier’s Bird Box, and Will Smith had the same effect in David Ayer’s Bright in 2017. Polar doesn’t include any A-listers in the same realms as these two Hollywood heavyweights, but it does feature a number of familiar faces who are well-renowned actors. The fact that the studio hasn’t spent a huge portion of its budget by bringing in a household name could be seen as a positive move, because it would allow for more to be spent on the film’s production.
Polar stars Mads Mikkelsen in the main role as assassin Vizla, and the actor was clearly chosen for his brooding intensity. Mikkelsen gained worldwide recognition for his role as Le Chiffre in Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale in 2006. James Bond is tasked with taking down Le Chiffre in a high-stakes Texas hold’em game, which culminates in a huge showdown of monstrous poker hands. Mikkelsen was praised for the way he acted in this scene, which is regarded by Betway as one of the best gambling moments to have appeared in film. After gaining recognition alongside Daniel Craig, Mikkelsen went on to earn starring roles in a number of films including Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky and The Hunt. For the latter picture, the 53-year-old was awarded the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award. These performances have proven Mikkelsen to be a highly capable actor, who could end up being an exciting protagonist in Polar.
In addition to Mikkelsen, Polar features Vanessa Hudgens as the leading lady, an actress who gained fame for portraying Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical film series and Margaret Delacourt in The Princess Switch in 2018. Katheryn Winnick from Vikings is another well thought of actress who many will be intrigued to see away from her usual role as Lagertha on the hit TV series. Matt Lucas is the main antagonist in Polar, and the British actor is best-known for his roles in Little Britain and Alice in Wonderland.
Is This the Perfect Time for Its Release?
After the success of Bird Box, it seems like a prime time for Netflix to be firing out more original films. Prior to this, a number of offerings on the streaming platform have been met with fairly scathing critical responses. For instance, the recent The Christmas Chronicles starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus received one star in The Guardian. The Ridiculous Six was also slated, with The Wrap referring to it as an “Adam Sandler Atrocity”.
Now that Bird Box has gone on to be one of the most-streamed features in Netflix’s history, there is a huge audience out there waiting for the next big thing. For that reason, the next few films that Netflix releases are likely to attract a lot of viewers who enjoyed the apocalyptic thriller.
If Polar can live up to its tag of being Netflix’s answer to John Wick and replicate the success of Bird Box, it could mark a turning point for the streaming service’s original film content. There is a lot of hype surrounding the picture already and it is likely to get vast numbers of views. Whether it will be well-received by critics, though, is another question entirely.