Arctic

Directed by first-time Brazilian feature filmmaker Joe Penna who rose to fame as a YouTube star, Arctic is a terrific survival movie that follows a rather simple yet extremely compelling script and is greatly enhanced by the brilliantly believable performance given by Mads Mikkelsen. We first meet the protagonist, played by the captivating Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, in the middle of his harrowing adventure to simply survive while he waits to be rescued somewhere in the frigid and inhospitable Arctic Circle. The audience gathers that he was involved in a plane crash in which he was the only person aboard flying cargo across the Arctic. The first half of the movie follows his daily arduous tasks of living in such a harsh environment with very little supplies. There is very little or no talking throughout as he does such simple routines as hand cranking a radio transponder for him to be located, setting up traps for fish, and creating a large SOS sign in the snow. Through the use of epic cinematography, his surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful with pure white snow and no evidence of humanity as far as the eye can see. It really captures the essence of the story as the struggle between man and nature. Eventually, during a helicopter rescue gone terribly wrong, he must take care of a gravely injured female rescue copilot who does not speak his language and is in and out of consciousness. With such an emotive face and piercing eyes, Mads Mikkelsen is one of the few actors capable of taking on such a role in which he expresses a wide range of emotions through non-verbal means. By taking on the responsibility of somebody else as he himself struggles to survive, he goes through a series of feelings of despair and whether to make the extremely difficult decision to leave his new dying companion behind so that he can trek a long distance to find help and stay alive in such a brutal place. Overall, I found it to be an extremely compelling film primarily as a result of the acting talents of Mads Mikkelsen and viscerally showing what it must be like to survive in such an unimaginable situation. The real thrill of the straightforward story is whether he will ever be rescued and what will happen to the young woman that he discovers.

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