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Non-Review Review: Polar

At the heart of Polar is a vaguely interesting idea.

The basic premise of Polar filters an archetypal masculine midlife (or retirement) anxiety through the prism of a hyper-violent fantasia. It is almost a cliché to suggest that certain types of men revert to boys when confronted with their own mortality, but only because it permeates popular culture that treats middle age as a relapsed adolescence reflected in the shiny toys that such men buy and the selfish decisions that such men make. Polar just takes that central metaphor and runs with it.

The assassin who came in from the cold.

Even beyond that basic concept, there’s something potentially compelling in the premise of an assassination-themed black comedy that hinges on what amounts to a pension swindle. It’s hyper-capitalism run wild, the commodification of human life to the point that workers are literally killing one another to prevent the company from having to make a pay-out. The Other Guys managed that deft balance with ease and grace. On some strange level, it’s fun to imagine a hyper-violent assassination thriller rooted in something as mundane as balance sheets, mergers and annual reports.

Unfortunately, Polar is a disaster of a film. It just doesn’t work. More than that, the ways in which it doesn’t work are painfully and predictably mundane. It’s leery, voyeuristic and trashy, but not in any fun way. It has a weird anal fixation that most obviously manifests itself in those sleazy tight close-ups of female derrieres, but which has a slight equal opportunity air to it; audiences are also treated to a number of shots of Mads Mikkelsson’s ass as he thrusts into his female co-stars, and the film opens with Mikkelsson receiving a prostate exam that might serve as a metaphor for the store film.

Not a patch on John Wick.

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Non-Review Review: Hanna

A special thanks to the guys over at movies.ie for sneaking us into an advanced preview screening.

If ever there was an odd choice for an early summer release, I think Hanna is it. Directed by Joe Wright (the guy who brought you Atonement) and starring an Oscar bait cast including Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett (with solid support from Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams), Hanna is the story of a teenage assassin set loose upon the world after a life spent in the wilderness. If that cocktail doesn’t sound crazy enough, Wright sets the movie as a fairy tale.

What’s genuinely astounding is how frequently these elements compliment each other, even if there are a few moments where they seem at odds.

Joe Wright takes a shot at directing an action film...

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