Directed by Joe Penna
A crashed pilot (Mads Mikkelsen) in the Arctic has been filling his days with ice fishing and operating a hand cranked emergency beacon as he waits for rescue. One day a helicopter comes into the area, but high winds cause it to crash. When the lone survivor’s condition gets worse, Overgård decides to make a risky journey to a seasonal camp across the desolate terrain in order to get help and both be rescued.
Having no dialogue really takes a little getting used to for me. I think every line uttered in that movie could fit on a 3 x 5 note card. I would say there are maybe five short sentences spoken throughout the film. Some are in English and others are in Dutch. Most of the acting comes from the kind of sounds we might make ourselves when frustrated or angry and so on.
I admit to being a little bored at the beginning. I was not sure how much I could watch of Mikkelsen going about his mundane life as he tries to survive in the harsh conditions and grunt rather than talk. But then it kind of grew on me and once he decided to take the survivor back and risk his own life it really kicked up a notch.
Maria Thelma Smáradóttir, who played the lone crash survivor, mumbled two sentences and spent the rest of the movie basically being dead weight. She did not have to do much other than look uncomfortable. That has to be the easiest acting gig ever.
No one is explicitly named in this movie which is an unusual choice. You can guess the name of Mikkelsen’s character because it is written on his jacket, but I do not believe there is anything that makes that definite. The lack of dialogue and no explicit names for the characters allows you to more easil;y identify with them and pulls you into the story more.
I almost hated this movie because of the ending. They put a fake out with the end making you think he has come all that way for nothing. The helicopter he sees in the distance takes off just as they arrive and his efforts to get their attention appear to have been in vain up until the closing scene of the film. I would have been very upset if director Joe Penna had let them die there. It would have made the whole movie worthless to watch. Nothing would have been accomplished in the 90 minutes. I hate when movies do that and everything the characters have tried has been for nothing and that is it. Fortunately just as he is giving up the helicopter lands just behind them.
This is an enjoyable man versus nature film. They do not overdo it with miraculous escapes and near ridiculous weather events. The film comes off as realistic. Mikkelsen turns in a fantastic performance here as a man pushed to his limits. It is a focused story with no padding that is well worth a watch.