Joe Penna’s directorial debut, Arctic is a survival story following a man’s journey to find salvation in one of the harshest climates on the planet.
Surviving in the Artic for several weeks, stranded crewman, Overgard (Mads Mikkelsen) uses distress signals to attract a rescue. Just when all hope is lost, a helicopter appears, but Overgard’s relief is is short-lived when the helicopter gets caught in a blizzard and crashes. While the pilot is instantly killed, there is a female survivor. Rescuing the woman (Maria Thelma Smaradottir) whose name is never revealed, Overgard is hit with the ultimatum that if they are both to survive, they must leave his current haven and search for salvation elsewhere.
Arctic has a unique narrative that focuses more on actions rather than words. With minimal dialogue, I found this approach both artistic and fascinating. Mads Mikkelsen does an exceptional job as Overgard. You instantly connect and appreciate his overall character, the way he handles himself and how he treats ‘the woman’ in the story really hooks you into wanting to learn more about him and the concluding results of the journey ahead. The chemistry in the film is balanced exceptionally well by Maria Thelma Smaradottir, whose character is dragged on a slay for majority of the film. Although this may sound bland, her character is seen more as an anchor for motivation and determination for Overgard, which is the main drive for the story progression.
Although Arctic is a survival movie, I felt that it was a bit short in providing a thrilling “on edge of your seat” experience. The film seemed to be just scratching the surface with the harsh natural settings and I didn’t feel as stressed as I believe I should have been regarding the survival of the characters. While I enjoyed Overgard’s character and ‘the woman’, I personally would have liked to have known more about their back stories prior to being stranded.
This film may not have provided the thrill ride that I had expected, but it doesn’t fail to provide an engaging experience. Arctic is a visually stunning captivating “man versus nature” story, told with the help of a small talented cast, displaying the epitome of determination and the will to succeed.