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Review: Arctic

Arctic
9 10

PLOT: A man who survived a plane crash in the middle of the Arctic must find any way he can to survive and hope for rescue. When an unexpected turn of events leaves him taking care of an injured stranger, he must decide whether or not to remain in the safety that he has created, or risk everything and venture out to seek help.

REVIEW: In the new man vs. nature feature film ARCTIC, Mads Mikkelsen must fight against dangerous and inconceivably grim elements to stay alive. Aside from the obvious situation we find his character in, we are told nothing about how and why he is there. This is a man who was in a plane crash in the middle of the Arctic. That is all we really know going in. There is very little dialogue, and only one other character in the film who appears later on, but other than that it is a simple tale that is profoundly moving and quite intense. Co-written and directed by Joe Penna - he shares the screenplay credit with Ryan Morrison - this less is more approach works superbly to create a slow, yet suspensful burn of a tale.

Overgård (Mikkelsen) is all alone in the middle of nowhere. After surviving a plane crash in the Arctic, he has learned to fend for himself as best he possibly can. He has made a makeshift home out of the plane, he follows a routine of catching fish for nourishment, and he creates a large S.O.S. sign in the snow hoping for someone to find him. After yet another unfortunate situation, he is left with an injured woman (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) from a helicopter crash. The man takes her in in her weakened state, and tries to make things work for the both of them. As the weather begins to warm a bit, he decides that the two must venture out and search for help. Along the way, the dangers of the elements become all too real leading to a perilous journey for the two strangers.

arctic mads mikkelsen maria thelma smaradottir joe penna ryan morrison adventure thriller joblo.com man vs nature 2019Simplicity is the key. ARCTIC reveals nothing about Overgård's past. He is a man lost and doing his best to keep alive and sane. That’s all we know. Yet with Mikkelsen, the actor brings real depth to the character. We learn from him simply by his actions and the choices he makes. Even when we are introduced to the second survivor, she is too weak and doesn’t seem to speak the same language as he does. Yet without conversation, the two connect. Again, much of it comes down to Mads wonderful work. Even still, it is obvious that the filmmakers had a very clear and succinct idea as to how to tell this story. Knowing next to nothing about him originally, by the end you can’t help but feel like you know him about as well as you can.

Considering the actor spends much of the film on his own, you have to feel something for Mikkelsen’s situation. As mentioned, his work here is marvelous. The actor brings a very real and human quality to Overgård. When the woman arrives, he becomes a protector which makes the film all the more compelling. Instead of giving his history away in flashback or memory, we are with him in the now and the present, and the same with her. Perhaps credit should be given to Penna as much as Mikkelsen. As desperate and close to death as he may be, he still attempts to risk everything for the only other human being around. Because of this, you’ll find that there is an impressive emotional connection to these two people.

arctic mads mikkelsen joe penna ryan morrison maria thelma smaradottir adventure thriller joblo.com 2019Aside from a handful of short films, this is the first feature length film for Penna. Thus it is all the more impressive the restraint he shows as a filmmaker. He offers a number of sequences that are downright terrifying, even though it never feels forced or exaggerated. This tale of survival is gorgeously shot, bringing the majesty of this frozen region to life. The suspense builds throughout, as we hope for any kind of positive luck for the film’s two human elements. And of course, the ARCTIC itself is absolutely wondrous. As frightening as it is magnificent, the filmmaker gives us an impressive view into a world that most of us will never see or experience - in the case of this story, that is certainly a good thing.

ARCTIC is a bold and powerful feature film debut for writer/director Joe Penna. The vastness of this world is explored beautifully, while still offering a foreboding sense of dread. Instead of creating something that would be humanly impossible, this adventure manages to stay  real. Throughout I began to wonder if it was based on a true story, and whether or not anyone could survive the ordeal. As well, the tension would be non-existent had the right actor not been in the role, and thankfully Mikkelsen is it. From his performance, to the score by Joseph Trapansese, to the exceptional cinematography courtesy of Tómas Örn Tómasson, this is a moving and emotional tale of survival. It is a story you won't soon forget.

Source: JoBlo.com

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