The film opens with Overgard (Mads Mikkelsen) shoveling snow. When the task is finished, the camera pans back and reveals the distress words “SOS.” Overgard walks back to his crashed airplane, checks his equipment and then catches some fish for dinner. After some bed rest, it is the return to his routine of checking his equipment and catching fish.
When the rescue helicopter crashes, Overgard is burdened with the extra responsibility of saving a comatose survivor. Should Overgard maintain the comforts of his survivor camp or venture forward and rescue himself and the survivor with a wound infection?
The results are painful, stressful and ultimately life affirming. There are tantalizing moments of suspense that could lead to either despair or triumph. It is only in the last second of this film that the climax is reached. Don’t blink.
Essentially giving a one man performance like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, or Robert Redford in All is Lost, Mikkelsen gives an earnest and endearing portrayal. Best known for portraying the arch enemy of James Bond and Doctor Strange, this Danish actor speaks few words in Artic. Mikkelsen gives a physical performance that draws echoes from the silent cinema of Buster Keaton.