Who needs dialogue when you have Mads Mikkelsen? Artic, which places the mad actor in the tundra with nothing but a ravaged airplane and some impressive survival skills, is one of the best survival movies in years, a simple, straightforward, and highly suspenseful drama-thriller.
Though Arctic features a fantastic performance from Mikkelsen, it’s Maria Thelma Smáradóttir who steals the show. Her turn, as a nearly comatose crash survivor who blinks her eyes a few times and moves her mouth occasionally, chews the gorgeous, frigid scenery every opportunity she gets.
In all seriousness though, Mikkelsen is a one-man show and director and co-writer Joe Penna squeezes every last ounce of the actor’s talent out of him and puts it on the screen. Mikkelsen doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, but he speaks volumes, emoting an incredible range of emotions and perseverance that is impossible to overlook.
One month into 2019 and we already have one of the year’s best performances.
Arctic itself is spellbinding, 95 minutes of masterful filmmaking. Penna, along with co-writer Ryan Morrison, deliver taut storytelling from the first moment to the last, wasting few if any seconds in between. The film is beautiful and beautifully shot; you feel as if you are out in the middle of a desolate nowhere, alone with Mikkelsen and the frigid cold.
Arctic is filmmaking at its finest, a fierce tale of survival that is as believable as it is engrossing. Coupled with a raw performance from Mikkelsen and you have one of the year’s best movies.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.