Director: Peter Flinth
Writers: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Joe Derrick
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Cole, Charles Dance, and Heida Reed
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who also co-wrote and produced the film, Against the Ice is an adaptation of memoir, Two Against the Ice, by Danish explorer Ejnar Mikkelsen. In 1909 Mikkelsen had set out to disprove America’s claim that Greenland was split into two pieces of land, and by doing so proving that Greenland belonged entirely to Denmark.
Mikkelsen is forced to leave his ship behind to continue the journey, with only a single volunteer, Iver Iversen (Joe Cole). Together they travel across Greenland facing the elements and animals along their way to get the proof they need.
Against the Ice is a survival thriller, with a lot of tense moments as the pair complete their mission. The first third of this film is great, it keeps the pace up nicely, with an incredibly tense moment quite early on that the rest of the film fails to live up to. Strangely the further into the story, the less tense everything is. Once they find their proof and start to head back, with still quite a bit of the runtime to go, things start to deflate and no matter how many obstacles are thrown in their way, it doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat like it did on the outward journey.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is really great in the film, and is completely believable as Mikkelsen, even if he is way too old to be playing someone who was twenty-eight/twenty-nine at the time. Joe Cole is also great as the more naïve Iver Iversen, who volunteers without really understanding what he’s getting himself into. Iversen gets very attached to his sled dogs, despite being warned not to, he makes mistakes that Mikkelsen has to fix. They do play off each other nicely, and their relationship feels authentic and real, as they both learn from each other while surviving their expedition.
Torben Forsberg does a great job with the cinematography, capturing the danger of their expedition and giving you a real sense of the scale and how cold everything must be. There’s also a good use of muted colours to make everything seem bleaker and more desolate.
Sadly, everything is let down by the pacing. The film runs a little over ninety minutes, but feels a hell of a lot longer. By the half way mark it feels like we should be closing in on the end, but it’s still half the film away. There are twists and good moments in the later half, but it fails to keep you engaged and does feel very dragged out, despite what’s happening on screen with bear attacks, a mix of dream and reality as madness sets in, and an overall feeling of doom.
Against the Ice is a decent film that really would be better if it had been trimmed down a little. The characters are great and the moments of terror and tension work really well. None of that can overcome how tedious the film starts to feel in the second half. A story of survival for the audience, as well as Mikkelsen and Iversen.
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