The upcoming Polar reboot based on the graphic novel assassin The Black Kaiser may fix problems that made the original film a critical failure. When the action flick Polar starring Mads Mikkelsen was released in 2019 it became a critical failure, but the upcoming reboot The Black Kaiser could fix the mistakes of the original. The adaptation of Victor Santos’ popular graphic novel was a critical failure despite Mikkelsen’s excellent performance and its incredibly immersive atmosphere. The new adaptation will again be directed by Jonas Åkerlund (director of Lords of Chaos and Horseman) and co-written by Mikkelsen, which means there may be new and improved concepts and ideas that could take the originally stagnant story further than before.
Polar follows the assassin known as The Black Kaiser, or Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen), on his slow-moving journey through retirement. Through a series of events inspired by greedy individuals in the same business, he’s briefly forced out of his retirement to secure his fortune and safety. Along the way, he forms a connection with his new neighbor Camille (Vanessa Hudgens) and ends up discovering that he killed her family when she was young. Despite this, Camille decides not to take revenge on him and Polar ends with an amicable conclusion. The film as a whole, however, was not well received. Though Polar follows a cast of characters who retain clear intentions, the plot still manages to be fairly barren of content. The over-the-top villains and threadbare plot contributed to the original film’s downfall and avoiding those elements this time around may save Polar as a franchise-worthy property. As the reboot will be drawing more directly from the graphic novel, and is titled The Black Kaiser, it can be assumed that it will center more on The Black Kaiser and his silent-but-deadly character. The graphic novel depicts the story without any dialogue and a stylized design of singular colors, and Åkerlund and Mikkelsen’s reboot has the opportunity to make the plot and characters more in the style of the novel, and thus more unique and compelling.
The producer of The Black Kaiser, Jeremy Bolt, has said the reboot will be “an explosive, action-packed, funny, unexpected and little insane and emotional journey.” This means it’s likely not to waste the potential that Polar had by its ending. Adding the influence of emotion and sentiment to Duncan’s character will give him the depth he needs to be a dynamic and interesting character rather than a run-of-the-mill action hero. He had good chemistry with Hudgens but the story dragged her down. Hopefully, either Hudgens will return for a new and improved dynamic between them or another character will come into the picture to give Duncan similar emotional motivations.
Polar has the potential to become a huge franchise in the vein of Liam Neeson’s Taken action movies and other popular action franchises. Mads Mikkelsen made the character of Duncan Vizla his own in 2019 and there is no doubt that his return to the role will be just as phlegmatic a portrayal, and even more gripping. In order for the Polar reboot to succeed beyond its predecessor, the creators must examine the elements that made the first fail. Luckily, The Black Kaiser is certain to avoid at least a few of the original movie’s flaws and provide a much better foundation for a franchise.