✰✰✰✰½ (out of five)
Synopsis: A man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.
Review: The arctic is barren, bitter and unforgiving. One could say the same about the human psyche. Such is the emotion viewers feel with the beautifully filmed survival film "Arctic."
Actor Mads Mikkelsen is an versatile, interesting actor, taking roles that are fun yet deep and poetic. He helped usher in the 007 changing of the guard as villainous Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale." He had a tender, torn nature as the architect of the Death Star in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." His torture as a teacher facing wrongful sexual molestation accusations in "The Hunt" is a thing of beauty. And his performance as Dr. Lecter on TV's "Hannibal" is one of the most potent, power takes of a classic character that I have ever seen.
As the survivor in "Arctic," Mikkelsen maintains a vibrant spark of hope, a common thread in all of the aforementioned performances, among others. At times, the scope of the stunning cinematography has its own emotion battling Mikkelsen's. It is a competition of wills. It is a battle of strengths. Mikkelsen embodies a symbol of the human spirit, a defining resilient individual who embarks into the hellish cold of nature unaware she will fight back.
The film is very similar to the harrowing 2013 drama "All is Lost," starring Robert Redford. Like that movie, "Arctic" relies heavily on the lack of dialogue. The bipolarity of mother nature--inviting and beautiful, or harsh and unforgiving--is on stunning display in "Arctic." The empty wastes of the ice-covered climate is stunning canvas, almost empty and ready to be carved into by the curiosity of the human existence.
Humans are always looking to push the boundaries of existence and the limits of exploration--technology, space and nature. It's part of the DNA we share.