Arctic (2019) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & content that may disturb
Mads Mikkelsen as Overgård
Maria Thelma Smáradóttir as Young Woman
Tintrinai Thikhasuk as Helicopter Pilot
Director: Joe Penna

A man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.

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I had been meaning to watch Arctic for a while. The main reason I was interested was because of Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role, he’s one of my favourite actors. On top of that I heard that the movie was pretty good on its own. I finally got around to it and I’m glad to say that Arctic is very good on a technical and acting level, with Mikkelsen typically delivering on a great performance. Deserves a lot more attention.

While it is Mads Mikkelsen surviving in the arctic against great odds, don’t expect a non stop high tension thriller, think more like something like All is Lost with Robert Redford. It’s more of a slow burn thriller, with small victories and huge setbacks as our protagonist desperately tries to survive, but works very well as this. There might be a couple scenes of tension but that isn’t that kind of thriller. The worst things that Mikkelsen comes up against is in the second half of the movie. Mikkelsen doesn’t feel immortal at all throughout the runtime of this movie, he’s vulnerable and generally just barely manages to get by, and you don’t feel like he’s fully on top of things. There are some parts where the movie drags, even with a runtime of under an hour and 40 minutes. Part of it is because there are moments and aspects of the movie can be rather repetitive. Maybe those moments could’ve been trimmed down a bit, but otherwise the simplistic and shorter story really worked to great effect.

There aren’t many actors in Arctic, it’s mainly just Mads Mikkelsen’s show as the unnamed protagonist, and he’s fantastic here. There isn’t much dialogue in the movie delivered by him, however he conveys so much with his actions, the way he does certain things, his little comments, and more things like that. He can also convey so much with a single look, whether it be with great highs or crushing lows. You really feel like he’s barely surviving in his current situation. While much of Arctic is good, he’s what’s really carrying the movie. Definitely among Mikkelsen’s best performances.

Arctic is very well directed by Joe Penna, this is his debut film and he did a fantastic job with it. This movie is beautifully shot, you really feel like you’re right there in the arctic, and everything that happens there feels real. As a matter of fact, Arctic was actually filmed in Iceland, it must’ve been absolutely hectic trying to film in those conditions. In the end however, it more than payed off well, and there isn’t a single moment in the film where it feels fake, it feels like you’re right there with the lead character in these situations. You really just feel alone with Mads Mikkelsen throughout, and the isolation is greatly conveyed with visuals and silence. The score by Joseph Trapanese when present is also used quite well, and enhances the scenes its played during.

Arctic is worth checking out for sure. It may be a little slow and gruelling at points, but it’s captivating, engaging and directed very well. And at the centre leading the movie is Mads Mikkelsen, who really commands your attention from start to finish, it is really worth watching for his performance alone.

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