Arctic (2018): 5 out of 10: A well-acted movie about one man’s struggle after a plane crash in the Arctic.
The Good: Mads Mikkelsen (best known in this household for his role as baddie Le Chiffre in Daniel Craig’s first James Bond outing Casino Royale) is good as the stranded pilot in the arctic. This is very fortunate, as while there are three actors listed in the credits, one is dead and the other is in a coma. (This is barely a spoiler. When you are watching a movie about a man struggling to survive in the Arctic, one can easily suppose that the rescue helicopter that shows up ten minutes into the film will meet an unfortunate end.)
The Bad: You know, for a movie about a guy struggling to survive in the Arctic, he doesn’t seem to struggle all that much. He has shelter from his roomy crashed plane; he has ice fishing; and, despite some frostbitten toes shown early on, he seems in pretty good health. Plus, it is the height of summer. I half expected to see holidaymakers with their tents and their fishing rods every time he crests a new hill.
After the rescue helicopter crashes, he has fresh supplies (The crashed helicopter breaks all Hollywood conventions by not blowing up in a big orange fireball) and a new friend. Well, a lady (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) who doesn’t speak English and goes in and out of a coma and honestly, whose role could have been played by a store mannequin or a painted volleyball.
There is never a sense that the struggle is going to the next level. The idea of eating the dead pilot never comes up. Why would it? He has plenty of food. I have been on camping trips more dicey than Mads Mikkelsen’s predicament.
The Ugly: A little after the helicopter crash, Mads Mikkelsen decides to go to a Weather station/ Ranger cabin about a day or so north of his crash site. This begs all the questions. First, you just had a helicopter crash from a completely different organization that should at least double the number of rescuers looking for you and with two crash sites basically next to each other, you are much easier to find. (You know, for all the SOSs in the snow and signal fires, you know what really sticks out in the tundra. A plane crash. People will stop and check out the multiple downed aircraft.)
The movie tries to give reasons for leaving (perhaps the coma girl is getting worse and there is a polar bear around that has been eyeing that stash of fish.) But it makes zero sense in reality. Why didn’t he go from the get-go? Why leave now? I mean winter is coming, but the weather is relatively pleasant and heck, you even have that wind-up transponder you were using at the beginning of the film but seemed to have forgotten about (Maybe the polar bear ate it).
In Conclusion: This is a movie you can watch while doing the dishes. You know there is a reason that they gave Tom Hanks a volleyball to talk to in Cast Away. It gives the movie something to be about between the plane crash and the rescue. Artic never seems to grasp this, so Mads spends most of his day silent when there is a perfectly good coma victim to chat up.