The Reel Review
Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) stars in this survival thriller, as Overgård, a pilot calmly eeking out an existence two months after his plane has crashed in a remote section of the Arctic. His methodical, daily routine of fishing, sleeping, maintaining his SOS message and sending out radio distress signals is disrupted when a rescue helicopter approaches one windy day. But elation soon turns to crushing disappointment when it crashes. Overgård rescues the rescue chopper’s badly-injured sole survivor (oh, the irony), realizing that if they are both going to survive, they must set out on an arduous trek to save themselves.
With its sparse dialogue, the film is very reminiscent of the 2013 Robert Redford stranded-at-sea thriller All Is Lost, with first time co-writer/director Joe Penna spinning an immersive and harrowing tale of self-survival. It is brutal, torturous and slow moving – so much so, that it may be too realistic for those moviegoers accustomed to lighter, CGI-generated adventure. Mikkelsen’s subtle, understated performance, juggling wits and ironic humor, is the lynchpin of this film, which also features an evocative score and some clever camerawork. As expected in this type of film, there is an abundance of symbolism. And whether you love it or are bored by it, you WILL appreciate that your life is not as bleak as what poor Overgård has had to endure.
• Arctic received a ten minute standing ovation at its premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
• This is the first feature film from Brazilian director Joe Penna, who first started making popular viral videos on YouTube in 2006 for his channel MysteryGuitarMan.
• Mads Mikkelsen says Arctic, which was filmed in 19 days in Iceland, was the most difficult shoot of his career.