Title – Arctic (2018)
Director – Joe Penna (feature debut)
Cast – Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
Plot – Plane crash victim Overgård (Mikkelsen) fights for survival in the harsh surrounds of the Artic, while also trying to keep alive a helicopter crash survivor (Smáradóttir) he finds on his plight.
“You understand what I’m saying?”
Review by Eddie on 13/08/2019
There’s some impressive film-making elements behind survival thriller Arctic and some stunning visuals thanks to its Icelandic setting, but sadly for debut filmmaker Joe Penna, Arctic’s lack of character building and backstory makes it a rather cold experience.
Getting his start on Youtube where his collection of short films and projects garnered him a following in the millions, the Brazilian born Penna is clearly adept at his craft and that is evidenced throughout Arctic, which maximizes its small $2 million dollar budget to feel like an epic film that’s anchored by the reliable presence of esteemed actor Mads Mikkelsen.
The problem with this well shot and proficiently put together tale of Mikkelsen’s plane crash victim Overgård trials to stay alive in the harsh surrounds of the Arctic landscape, while also trying to escort Maria Thelma Smáradóttir’s nameless helicopter crash survivor to a safe haven is that we as an audience are never given anything to lay hold of in an investment sense, there’s no backstory, not even hints of who these people really are, meaning their plight to overcome the odds is more curiously interesting rather than downright engaging.
The best of the best of the survival against the odds films like heavy hitter The Revenant, Alive, Cast Away or underrated classic The Grey all share a common theme, characters we get to know and understand, emotionally connecting us to their plights and unfortunately Arctic has none of this as we join Overgård days/weeks into his battle to survive, with no time spent moving forward on developing him any further.
It’s through no fault of Mikkelsen, who commits a full bodied performance here, with it always a joy to see the one time Hannibal get time to shine in a lead role it’s just a shame Penna and his co-writer Ryan Morrison didn’t spend more time putting in place reasons to make us really care for an against the odds tale that includes time for fishing, bear attacks and ample shots of Mikkelsen shown against some of Iceland’s most harsh and unforgiving surrounds.
Final Say –
A promising feature debut from Penna that is sadly let-down by a lack of genuine character development or emotional connection, Arctic is a visually impressive but forgettable tale of survival that’s worth seeking out purely for the chance to see the always good Mikkelsen ply his trade.
2 ½ trout out of 5