Of all the places to be stranded on the planet, the worst one that comes to mind is a frozen barren wasteland. Surviving in the arctic circle sounds as appealing as trying to survive in outer space, where the environment is created to kill you and the only thing keeping you alive are some tools that’ll eventually run out. No heat, little to no food, no naturally occurring supplies besides snow, and the chance of rescue might as well be as likely as finding a needle in a snowstorm.
This is why “Arctic” hits as hard as it does. The fear and desperation of Mads Mikkelsen is stressed above all else, as well as the isolation and desolation of this inhospitable location, as one man does everything he can to survive after his plane crashes somewhere in the arctic circle. Mikkelsen turns in the performance of his career, giving a captivating and emotionally charged performance while never saying more than seven or eight lines of dialogue.
From the first moment we see Mikkelsen carving a giant “S.O.S.” in to the side of a mountain, “Arctic” proves to a gripping survival thriller, playing to the full cinematic experience that movies are made for. Something like “Arctic” could not work in any other medium as well as it does here – the hardships Mikkelsen faces just by going about his daily routine, the turmoil he shows through each of his actions, and the unending dangers he will continue to face that will always try to kill him, all told through that magical bond between the audience and pictures in front of them.
Final Grade: B+