Polar Ending Explained: What Happens In The Netflix Movie (& What It Means)

Mads Mikkelsen in Polar

The ending of the graphic novel-turned-Netflix adaptation Polar is something of an outlier in its own story. While the bulk of the film may as well be an exercise in pulp action pushing the limits of non-horror gore, Polar‘s ending is a quiet, reflective peek into what sort of consequences the life of a hired gun can produce.

When Duncan Vizla/The Black Kaiser (Mads Mikkelsen) enters retirement, he leaves behind a bloody past of ruthless assassinations – one of which ends up coming back to haunt him. Despite his humble pursuit of the quiet life, a shady loophole in his contract prompts his former employer, Blut (Matt Lucas), to send a team of skilled assassins to take him out for the sake of monetary gain. When a young woman named Camille (Vanessa Hudgens) – who Duncan has formed a special bond with – is (literally) caught in the crossfire, Duncan puts his skills to good use to defend them. That said, no matter how proficient he may be when it comes to killing people, his mission isn’t exactly effortless.

Related: Polar Movie Cast & Character Guide

As Polar unfolds, Camille is kidnapped and drugged, Duncan is captured and tortured (giving Mikkelsen’s torture scene in Casino Royale a run for its money), and his list of allies gets shorter by the day. Still, he manages. With an absurdly massive arsenal of weapons, a new eye patch to cover his recently detached eyeball, and the sheer will to make any sacrifice necessary to save Camille, Duncan massacres his way through an army of guards to decapitate Blut once and for all  – finally shutting him up in the process. However, Duncan soon discovers that his noble deeds hold little weight when Polar‘s last-minute twist changes everything.

Camille Wanted To Kill Duncan In Polar All Along

Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens in Polar

Despite the bloodshed, Polar sets itself up for an unexpectedly happy ending: Camille had been involuntarily drugged up during her capture, but she’s on the mend; Duncan’s isolated cabin was technically the scene of a crime, but its quiet getaway status is settling back in; and Duncan has finally wiped his hands of the mess retirement got him in. Still, Duncan’s bloody backstory was finally coming back to haunt him.

When Duncan and Camille first meet in Polar, they’re drawn to each others’ silence. Both seemingly in pursuit of the simple life, Duncan responds to the fact that Camille seems damaged, maybe even in need of protection; and Camille quickly takes to Duncan’s stoic, mysterious persona. However, audiences only get Duncan’s side of the story – finding solace in a similarly broken soul, wanting to use his skills for good, becoming a father figure. As it turns out, Camille was nearly one of Duncan’s victims years earlier.

Just as things finally quiet down, Camille uses the gun that Duncan gave her as a gift and aims it at his head, revealing the true reason she’s there. It turns out that one of the hits Duncan was assigned to involved Camille, her mother, and her two siblings; and Camille was the only survivor. She spent her adult life tracking down the famously elusive Duncan once she was old enough to discover the truth, wanting nothing more than to kill him – even though she struggled with the idea of actually taking someone’s life. Duncan admits that he remembers the hit, but explains that they were not supposed to be his targets, that it was a mistake. Still, letting her live, he fueled her revenge.

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After Camille lends her side to the story, Duncan accepts his fate moments before she ultimately forgives him. And, despite the fact that he physically murdered her family, she uses his company to her advantage, teaming up with him to track down the individuals responsible for the hit – the person/people who wanted her father dead.

Clues To Polar’s Camille Twist

Mads Mikkelsen with gun in Polar

As shocking as Camille’s reveal at the end of Polar may be, there are morsels of hints scattered throughout the film that allows astute viewers to figure it out. Though subtle and indirect, they weave a satisfying connective thread in and out of Duncan’s story.

When Duncan finally discovers the truth about Camille, he sees that she literally laid out the details on her bed. After going into her room to check in on her, he discovers a pile of newspaper clippings detailing her family’s assassination and how Camille was the lone survivor. And, though there’s never any direct correlation between Camille and the hit itself before the twist, the hit pops up a handful of times throughout the film. At random moments during Polar, Duncan has jarring flashbacks of various kills he’s committed. They’re depicted through turbulent visuals, flashing bloody shots across the screen, not only conveying how violent his kills were, but how many there were. So, the first clues pertaining to Camille’s twist are actually very direct, revealing what actually happened.

After Duncan and Camille begin to form a friendship, he gathers that she might be in trouble (maybe even hiding), so he offers her a handgun as a gift. However, after a casual outdoor shooting practice, she opens up about her dark past, revealing that a mysterious man is to blame for her situation. She even admits that she wants to kill him. Though she rearranges the facts, she looks into Duncan’s eyes when she explains how much relief she expects she’d feel after killing him – going so far as to ask him if he thinks it’d be difficult to kill someone (secretly knowing he’s a professional killer).

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The final hint at Polar‘s Camille twist goes back to a scene in which neither Camille or Duncan are even involved. When the assassins are attempting to find Duncan while they’re hiding out in a motel room, they realize that following a paper trail might be their best bet. This comes after a series of failed attempts, but their epiphany ends up being the same that Camille had – though this isn’t revealed to the audience till later.

Why Duncan Didn’t Realize Camille Was His Victim In Polar

Vanessa Hudgens at diner in Polar

The idea that Duncan has the ability to track someone down is perfectly believable. The skills he shows off over the course of Polar lend credence to this. However, the same can’t be said for Camille. She lives a quiet life as a librarian, and up until the final act of the film, her life seems mostly prosaic – especially compared to Duncan. Still, not unlike the twist itself, Camille turns out to have had some tricks up her sleeve after all, and it’s actually Duncan himself who gets himself caught. After years of remaining undetected by professional assassins, his one slip-up comes at the hands of someone without any training whatsoever.

After Duncan realized the mistake he made in killing Camille’s family – not her father, as was the plan – he attempted to clear his conscience as best he could. However, knowing he couldn’t bring back Camille’s family, he instead decided to make sure she never had financial concerns; going so far as to pay off all of her college bills (Camille acknowledges the fact that she knew “someone was asking for salvation”). Duncan never wanted to interfere with her life, which is why he didn’t recognize her, and it was his good intentions that ultimately got him caught.

Not unlike the assassins earlier in the film, Camille explains to Duncan that tracking him down merely required that she “follow the money,” which was tied to the payments he made for her schooling. Ironically, Duncan is accused of getting soft after retiring by his former colleague Vivian (Katheryn Winnick), something that would only make things harder on him. In a way, she was right. Had Duncan never tried to help Camille, she might have never found him. Though, on the flip side, had she never gotten involved with Duncan, he might have never had the motivation to defeat Blut and the assassins, considering that he was more directly motivated by saving Camille than saving himself.

Related: The Best Netflix Original Movies of 2018

Page 2 of 2: How Polar’s Ending Sets Up A Sequel

Mads Mikkelsen in Netflix thriller Polar.

Why Didn’t Duncan Kill Vivian In Polar?

Polar is a complicated story about grief, redemption, and moving on, but “complex relationships” is no doubt one of its more potent themes. As an example, take Duncan’s relationship with Vivian. Despite the fact that they hardly share any screen time, there’s evident history between the two, and it stirs up some complex unpredictability. On one hand, Vivian appears to show sympathy towards Duncan; on the other hand, she treats their relationship as a work relationship, and it’s suggested that what seems like sympathy is actually fear. She understands the lengths to which Duncan is willing to go when he’s wronged, and she does her best to prevent Blut from getting on Duncan’s bad side.

The fact that she’s clearly willing to let Duncan die is confirmed when she tricks him, tracking his phone to an abandoned warehouse. She’s unaware (or is she?) that he anticipated the deception, and her deceit ironically paved the way for Duncan’s ultimate victory; but their final conversation still adds some weight to the feelings they clearly seem to have for each other. After wiping out Blut’s guards, killing Vivian would be effortless; and yet, he lets her live.

There is clearly more to Duncan and Vivian’s relationship than they let on in Polar, but it’s more implied than discussed. Still, keeping her alive proves two things: she’s correct that Duncan is getting soft; and there’s more to explore about their relationship – for better or worse – if Polar manages to secure a sequel.

Will There Be Polar 2?

Polar graphic novel

Speaking of a sequel for Polar, there is plenty more story for future films to cover, assuming it turns out to be a success for Netflix. In fact, though this film can easily work as a standalone open-and-shut narrative, it also doubles as a kind of origin story for Duncan and Camille’s relationship. It paves the way for a broader storyline that would allow the two characters to work side-by-side, without the pretenses.

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As for any word on an official Polar sequel, nothing has been revealed yet. That said, the film’s director Jonas Åkerlund spoke with Screen Rant about the possibility of a sequel and what he would like to see in it. He explained that Polar predominantly adapts the first book in Víctor Santos’ graphic novel series – though he also borrows slightly from the sequels while also adding some original material – and that there is plenty more story to tell if given the opportunity.

If a Polar 2 were to receive a greenlight, it would likely follow Duncan and Camille’s journey to find the person who ordered the hit on her father, while also building on their complicated love/hate relationship. There are also plenty of characters who could work their way into their journey, including Vivian, a retired assassin named Porter (Richard Dreyfuss) who still has ties to Blut’s organization, The Damocles Agency, and Damocles’ affiliates. The graphic novel’s sequel, Polar: An Eye for an Eye, centers around a femme fatale character seeking revenge, which lends more weight to the fact that a movie sequel to Polar would likely lean into Camille’s combative side – assuming Duncan will have trained her considerably between the two films.

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Polar is currently streaming on Netflix.

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