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“Arctic” Defying Death



Review by John Delia

A frost biting  film with some magnificent cinematography, Arctic puts its audience into survival mode. The film has a very good lone performance by Mads Mikkelsen that certainly is up there with his best. The storyline, however, has been done in many different locations including the snowbound wilderness of the Andes (Alive 1993), stuck on an island (Cast Away 2000), lost in a dessert (Gerry 2002), a rocky canyon (127 Hours 2010), stranded at sea (All Is Lost 2013), deserted in a rainforest (Jungle 2017), and many more. That said, for those that like a lot of suspense and deathly challenges, it doesn’t matter if you have seen the aforementioned as this one really works.

The film opens with a very creative man, Overgard (Mads Mikkelsen), living in the shell of his airplane, fishing through holes in the ice and chipping away at a message in the snow in an attempt to survive. He’s stranded within an arctic mountain range and unfortunately it’s a less traveled flight route. His only means of contact depends on his makeshift signal box that he constantly cranks out. It’s a wasteland of snow and ice, but that comes in handy for water and being able to see long distances.

Mads Mikkelsen stars as Overgård in ARCTIC, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Helen Sloan SMPSP / Bleecker Street

On this particular day, in the middle of a blizzard, he gets some hope when he sees a helicopter trying to land. When things go wrong, Overgard finds himself in a situation far beyond the life threat he’s already experiencing. Director and co-writer Joe Penna pushes his star to the limit as Overgard makes death defying decisions, tries to avoid an attack by a huge animal and makes a couple of bad mistakes. All this while trying to work his way out of the new predicament in which he finds himself.

Mads Mikkelsen stars as Overgård in ARCTIC, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Helen Sloan SMPSP / Bleecker Street

The film really turns out to be a showcase for Mads Mikkelson showing his ability to create a strong character like Overgard. Under extreme conditions Mikkelson shows Overgard’a strengths and weaknesses as he tries to find an answer to the difficult situation all around him. He’s perfect for the part and he nails the role by giving the audience an hour and a half of tense situations, fearless decisions and a heartfelt show of selfless heroism.

Director Joe Penna works behind the camera on the set of his film, ARCTIC, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Helen Sloan SMPSP / Bleecker Street

I have always liked Mikkelson being introduced to the actor in roles such as Tristan in King Arthur (2004), Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006), Draco in Clash of the Titans (2010), then one of his masterpieces as Lucas in The Hunt (2012), before taking on the starring role of “Hannibal” for 39 TV episodes (2013-2015). Of course it didn’t hurt that he played Kaecilius one of the antagonists in the movie Dr. Strange (2016) either. If you have Netfilx, check out his fearsome character Duncan Vizla in the movie Polar (2019) a non-stop action thriller about a hit man.

Arctic has been rated PG-13 for language and some bloody images. It opens this weekend in Florida in Miami: AMC Sunset Place 24, AMC Aventura 24, Tampa/St. Petersburg: AMC Woodland Square, AMC Sundial, Fort Lauderdale: The Classic Gateway, West Palm Beach: AMC City Place 20, Downtown at the Mall Gardens Palm 16, Cineopolis Jupiter 14, Ft Myers/Naples: Silverspot 12 Cinemas at Mercato, The Prado Stadium 12 and in Tallahassee: AMC Tallahassee Mall 20.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very tense and then exciting film. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen and Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
Directed and Co-written by: Joe Penna
Genre: Drama, Survival
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some bloody images
Running Time: 1 Hr. 38 Min.
Opening Date: February 22, 2019
Distributed by: Bleecker Street Media
Released in: Standard

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