Critic Consensus: Arctic proves that a good survival thriller doesn't need much in the way of dialogue to get by -- especially when Mads Mikkelsen is the one doing the surviving.
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Critic Reviews for Arctic
First-time feature director Joe Penna and his cowriter and editor Ryan Morrison skillfully exploit genre conventions, but suspense arises mostly from what fresh hells they devise for the hero to conquer, for conquer he must.
Brazilian director Joe Penna, a former viral YouTube star, seems to relish the chance to stretch out and slow down, training the focus of his almost John Carpenter-esque feature debut (shot in gorgeous Icelandic locations) on small acts of process.
Mikkelsen gives a strong performance, of course. He has to carry the movie on his shoulders, but that's probably why he did it.
This film makes for a compelling hour and a half; you know where it's going, but you never quite believe it'll actually get there.
Though the journey is well executed and the tension sustained, the obstacles are so familiar to the genre - inclement weather, tricky rock formations, grumpy bears - they can feel ordinary.
Audience Reviews for Arctic
Mads Mikkelsen as a dude stranded in the Arctic. Why is he there? And why does no one seem to be looking for him? The story never explains, preferring to hold us in the suspense of a survival tale without parameters, without a base. Our guy is not unduly uncomfortable waiting to be picked up, but circumstances change and he must dare to attempt an overland trek out of his comfort zone, and that's when the story really begins. Still, not an exceptional piece. Serviceable, eh, but there are better out there. Mikkelsen is one committed performer though.
Tense, harrowing and benefiting from a stellar performance by Mads Mikkelsen, this is a surprising survival film that explores well the white vastness of its inhospitable locations and understands the power of silence to tell a story about compassion without the need of unnecessary words.
Mads Mikkelsen is stranded in the Arctic and that's about all you need to know plot-wise about the film, a thrilling and immersive survival thriller. Right away the film lets us in on the routine of this survivor of a plane crash and how resilient and resourceful he had become. Then it introduces a new sense of urgency, a critically injured pilot in another aircraft, that pushes him into leaving the safety of his homemade confines. The movie relies so heavily on elemental, visual storytelling that I think any person on the planet could easily understand and appreciate the pared-down storytelling. The visuals are so immersive and accessible that every item bears import or sets up critical information to be relied upon later. The harsh Arctic landscape and unique dangers push our hero to the extreme in order to save another life. It's enough to inure us to this relatively silent man. Mikkelsen (Polar) uses every physical muscle of acting to communicate the struggle his character is undergoing. You believe every moment. There's not much in the way of story beyond stubborn survival against brutal conditions. We don't get any flashbacks. We don't get any monologues. It's one man against the full force of nature and it's enough for a brisk, simple, straightforward focused 97-minute survival story with Mads persevering amongst the beautiful and terrifying wasteland. Nate's Grade: B
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