The premise of Arctic will be familiar to anyone who’s seen The Grey, All is Lost or Gravity. It’s a survival thriller; a spare story resting on the shoulders of a single man – in this case, Overgård, a pilot stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash – with limited dialogue or character development. The simplicity of this premise renders Arctic into almost procedural territory, relying on Overgård’s relentless quest to fight through biting weather, polar bears and perilous terrain.
For a while, the film seems to most closely resemble The Grey and All is Lost; films defined by their pseudo-spiritual acceptance of impending doom. Our protagonist faces obstacle after obstacle, to an almost ridiculous degree – from his rescue helicopter crashing in inclement weather to a crevice opening up under his feet and almost crippling him.
Ultimately, however, Arctic has more in common with Gravity, building into an ode to resilience and dogged self-determination. There are so many moments throughout the film where Mikkelsen achingly evokes his character’s mounting resignation – and in each instance, his character is defined by his ability to keep pushing through. This is a technically complex but emotionally direct film, anchored by a simple message: keep fighting.