Arctic 2018 Movie Scene Mads Mikkelsen as Overgård stacking the fish he caught next to the wreckage of his plane

Arctic [2018]

After disappointing Polar [2019], also starring Mads Mikkelsen, I was really anxious to see this movie. Arctic is a minimalist survival thriller following a man trying to stay alive in the snowy hell that is the Arctic. This is a one-man show and since that one man is Mads, you know the show is going to be great. Everything hinges on his performance and he did not disappoint. I think I’ve watched almost all of his movies starting with Pusher, a gritty crime saga. Speaking of sagas, I have to tell you right away that the running time is just ninety minutes. So, you can play it any time you want, without any fear that it will take up your whole evening.

Arctic is a directorial debut for Joe Penna, who perfected his craft by making movies on YouTube. So, what do we have here? One hell of a survival movie, hitting all the sweet spots. With phenomenal cinematography, great acting, and excellent storytelling, Arctic is an experience that will reinvigorate your love towards those snow-covered and desolate places far away. For me, the fascination began with The Thing, a movie that I watched over and over again, basically living in that station with MacReady and Childs. In recent times, this sub-genre has been relatively popular with several snow movies being released every few years. 

After a forced landing somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Overgård, the only survivor, has fallen into a routine. Every day he checks his fishing lines, tends to a giant SOS sign, and many other things. And he does all of this in the freezing Arctic weather. One of those things is using an old distress beacon that he powers up every day, hoping that someone might hear him. One day, during a heavy blizzard, he notices something in the distance. As he focused his vision, Overgård could clearly see a helicopter hovering near his small settlement…

Arctic has great pacing and is incredibly tense at times. It reminded me of a documentary that blew me away a couple of years ago, Meru. Entirely shot in Iceland, it is a strange movie that you will like, if for nothing else than for the mesmerizing and untouched scenery of this beautiful country. Dialogue is almost non-existent and most of the storytelling relies on our main man Mads. I also have to mention the subtle and not-so-subtle camera-work. This worked great, stripping bare all the gimmicks usually used in similar productions.

It focused our attention on the story and fate of one human being surviving alone in these harsh conditions. And if you need an example of how these gimmicks can fuck up a great movie in theory, look no further than 2017 The Mountain Between Us, starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. Now that’s a pretty bad movie despite its star power and stunning nature. There’s a lot of empathy here along with copious amounts of escapism. As our current society slowly crumbles under its own weight, life gets more and more difficult. We find ourselves longing for those days of simple, repetitive tasks.

But those tasks must be imposed upon us, meaning there has to be some external force inflicting this condition over which we don’t have any control and is not controlled by other humans. The same thing can be said about post-apocalyptic movies, another genre that exploded in recent years. And the survival genre stayed strong throughout the years. In the end, Arctic is a movie that will seem familiar but will ultimately be refreshing, especially if you like this sub-genre. Enjoy.

Director: Joe Penna

Writers: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir

Fun Facts: The polar bear you see in the movie Arctic is a real bear. It was cheaper to use the real animal than the use CGI.


Imdb Link:

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