Joe Penna, director & script w/Ryan Morrision
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen (Overgard), Maria Thelma Smaradottir
Thanks to Hollywood and NBC, in a last gasp of mainstream television’s power, Mads Mikkelsen is well known as the James Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and Hannibal Lecter in the eponymous TV series. Back in Denmark, he doesn’t play big budget creeps for millions of dollars. In Scandinavia, he’s known as the romantic lead in films like Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky and A Royal Affair. With Arctic, he is given the opportunity to show off his acting chops in what is essentially a one-man show.
From the get-go, we’re immersed in his dilemma: his plane has gone down in the frozen Arctic. We see him fishing and trying to keep it together, which is possible because his broken plane is lacking a wing but otherwise intact. He’s quite successful in living a rudimentary existence until a helicopter tries to land to save him but is blown away by the wind and crashes spectacularly. Mads’ character, Overgard, saves the pilot, a young woman, who has become severely injured and rendered unconscious due to the crash.
Despite his efforts, the young woman remains unconscious and is clearly hurt badly. Mads’ character has no choice but to take her through the wilds of the Arctic in an attempt to rescue her. And that’s the film: Mads versus the wilderness. If you’ve never been to the Yukon or Nunavut, try imagining it now. It’s the logical, probably heroic, male fighting nature.
Joe Penna has shot the film in Iceland, which certainly resembles northern Canada. The vistas are beautiful but deadly. Arctic works very well because Mads Mikkelsen is a compelling presence and keeps us concerned about his fate throughout this minimal but effective film.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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