ARCTIC, other than garnering good reviews, made barely a ripple at the box-office in 2018. Audiences missed out on 98 enthralling minutes of a superior survival drama, dominated by another front & center performance from the quietly commanding Mads Mikkelsen.
His plane has crashed somewhere in the Arctic. Initially, the doggedly resourceful pilot (Mikkelsen) is alone, until a helicopter attempting a rescue crashes, leaving a badly injured young woman (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir), barely alive and unable to communicate. Risking all, he decides to try to march overland to what his map indicates is a permanent refuge, hauling her behind him on a sled. In their path lie storms, exhaustion, hills, crevasses and a polar bear.
Directed with assurance and restraint by first-timer Joe Penna, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ryan Morrison, it was shot in suitably harsh conditions on rugged locations in Iceland, with cinematography handled by Tómas Örn Tómasson. The music score by Joseph Trapanese provides just the right amount of shading to the sense of place, peril and perseverance.
With barely any dialogue, Mikkelsen crafts a superb performance: his eyes and bearing do the talking; he conveys physical discomfort brilliantly (recalling Naomi Watts in The Impossible), and applies perfectly measured touches of resolution, elation, determination and despair.
Done for just $2,000,000, it only made $4,144,000 worldwide, but bids fair to have a long life of rediscovery on small screens. Joins the top rank of a hardy list that includes Castaway, The Naked Prey, Jungle, All Is Lost, 127 Hours, The Revenant, The Martian, The Way Back, Shackleton, Life Of Pi, The Snow Walker, Alive, Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe…..