I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from ‘Polar’, but I ended up enjoying it immensely for what it was. It’s outrageous in its plot, generous in it’s application of violence and seemingly self-aware which is enough for me to think it’s worth a watch.
The main players are Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens with the former putting on a perfectly Mikkelsen performance. He’s badass, stoic, and he is, of course, a sweetheart underneath his murderous assassin skin. Hudgens doesn’t move the needle much, but she does play an important part in the third act. The only other performance I really want to point out is that of Matt Lucas as the films villain, Blut. What a creepy and unnerving character played to perfection by Lucas.
The plot of the movie itself was basically just a John Wick spinoff. The usual international society of assassins that have a Baba Yaga type figure (Mikkelsen) who is trying to retire, but instead gets a never ending stream of his coworkers out trying to kill him. He even gets a dog in the beginning of the movie! The repetitive feel aside, it’s some well choreographed fight scenes, cool special effects and simplified dialogue. I would say it’s well worth taking a look if you have a free hour and change.
As far as films about bodyguards go, ‘Close’ is actually up there with the good ones. There is an authentic feel to it, and considering it’s based on the real life experiences of bodyguard Jacquie Davis, that makes sense. It’s held together by a great performance from Noomi Rapace as well some awesome chase and close-combat sequences. It’s weaknesses come from a sort of garbled plot, poor development of tertiary characters, and sort of limited stakes.
While Rapace is a total badass and extremely convincing in her roll, her co-stars just aren’t. Her charge in the movie, Olivia Jewson, was just really annoying as all hell. The film expects you to believe her development from spoiled brat to aggressive bad-ass too quickly, and Indira Varma has a confusing role as well. That confusion was in service to the plot at first, but as the film progressed, she never really anchored herself into the role.
As far as the elements of the film go, it kind of hurts the legitimate feel when you can tell they had a low SFX budget. Fake gunfire looks exceedingly fake when so many recent action movies have sprung for the realer looking thing. The plot is uninspiring, but it paces quickly to give you as much action as possible. One thing I appreciated about the action sequences in this was how they fit the fight choreography to the actor, instead of the other way around. A smaller person taking out a larger opponent is more believable when they adapt to the scenario instead of just overpowering them. Overall, I enjoyed the movie but could have done for just a solo action movie without Rapace having a counterpart.
Not that I expected a ton out of this movie, but god damn what a disappointment. It’s an intriguing, if not overdone concept, that gets torpedoed by shit pacing, a poor cast and terrible screenwriting.
Anthony Mackie, who I adore in just about everything he’s ever been in, suffered desperately in this movie to sync up with co-star Margaret Qualley. They had absolutely zero chemistry, and considering they are the only two people in the entire film, the chance for the movie to succeed was fucked from the start. It’s never compelling, and depends on the cast reading monotone lines while trading fake-deep glances. Boo!!!!!! Don’t watch this.
Velvet Buzzsaw: 70/100
I’m not really a huge fan of horror movies, especially of the supernatural variety. ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ sort of broke that mold for me, and I ended up enjoying a movie I probably should have hated based on my usual tastes.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays a well respected and feared critic of art (I know the feeling, buddy), surrounded by peers Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Natalia Dyer. I thought Gyllenhaal would be the lead, but there isn’t really a sole character that they focus on. The trio of Gyllenhaal, Ashton, and Russo take on the biggest load in the movie, and do it with grace. Gyllenhaal and Ashton particularly do great portraying three dimensional characters that go through their own, independently rich arcs. I like how they go through the denial of what is going on around them, then acceptance and total fear. They also made a great effort of satirizing the pretentious L.A. art world, making pretty much everyone in the film as hateable as can be.
I didn’t love the conclusion, but the third act on a whole is delightful. Maybe my biggest criticism was that there was too many irons in the fire? Diggs and Malkovich really didn’t play much of a role or have an impact, which was disappointing considering I thought they may have larger roles. Natalia Dyer felt like she was only there for Netflix to say “Hey, remember this lady from stranger things?”. Can’t blame them for that, just good marketing really. Overall, the movie is well worth a watch for lovers of horror and general public as well. If a film in this genre can sway me into enjoying myself instead of groaning, they’re definitly on to something.