Ice Cold Mads Mikkelsen

Polar vs Arctic

BY: Zak Wojnar

One of the coolest and hottest actors of our generation, Mads Mikkelsen has been working in Hollywood and Europe for decades. Movies like Valhalla Rising and Pusher made him internationally known, while global box office hits like Casino Royale, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made him an A-List star.

This winter, Mads stars in two films, Polar and Arctic. Despite their similar titles, the films are actually quite different. Get it memorized, or you’ll look like a silly goose around your cinephile friends during their weekly “Mad About Mads” trivia night.

Polar

In Polar, released on Netflix on January 25, Mikkelsen stars as an assassin who is targeted for termination by his own syndicate, and goes on the run, killing anyone who gets in his way while clinging to the desperate hope that he’s still a good man. Think John Wick, but more European, thanks to director Jonas Åkerlund, who is best known his Madonna and U2 music videos.

Based on the online comic series (which was later picked up by esteemed publisher Dark Horse), the film has pumped-up sensibilities and a punk-rock performance from Mikkelsen; even at 53 years old, the man is is handsome as his body is shredded – we’d like to meet his personal trainer! The film also features noteworthy turns from Vanessa Hudgens, Johnny Knoxville, and Richard Dreyfuss. Throw in a soundtrack by mega-producer Deadmau5, and you’ve got yourself a solid choice for Netflix movie night!

Arctic

February 1 saw the release of Arctic, the feature film debut of director Joe Penna. Set in the arctic (duh), the film follows Mikkelsen as a man who is forced to survive after finding himself stranded in a frigid hellscape of snow and ice. With very few exceptions, Mikkelsen is basically the only actor in the movie, and this harrowing tale of survival and desperate helplessness is one which few Cannes Film Festival attendees will ever forget.

The film bears some superficial resemblances to the Robert Redford vehicle, All Is Lost, which also featured a lone man fighting against the elements by himself, but the stylistic differences, not to mention the difference in setting, will surely go a long way towards keeping those comparisons to a minimum, save for the occasional critic who thinks they’re being really clever by obliviously stating an obvious and reductive hot take.