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Against the Ice review – simple but sturdy Netflix survival drama

Game of Thrones alum Nikolaj Coster-Waldau co-writes and stars in a solid retelling of Danish explorer Ejnar Mikkelsen’s epic Greenland expedition

An unusual expedition here for Netflix, unusual less for the nature of the expedition itself and more for the ambition of it, a rare film for the streamer that allows us to travel with characters to a real location, a world away from green screens and sound stages. It shouldn’t be quite this much of a unique selling point but in the age of modestly budgeted fare crafted for the smallest of screens, the sheer on-the-ground expanse of old-fashioned survival adventure Against the Ice immediately separates it from the many other films landing, or most often crash-landing, on the platform.

It’s a vital separation from its contemporary streaming peers as when compared with the big-screen films that have come before in this particular genre, it’s a familiar tale told robustly but with very little distinguishing flair. It’s a passion project for the Game of Thrones alum Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who both co-writes and stars as the Danish explorer Ejnar Mikkelsen, but this passion is mostly restrained on screen, a polite, by-the-numbers story of men fighting the elements that should satisfy those seeking a simple, sturdy throwback drama. Those hoping for anything extra will leave feeling a little cold.

It’s the true story of the Danish expedition to Greenland in 1909, one to disprove the American claim to the north-eastern territory based on a belief that it was broken up into separate pieces of land. Captain Mikkelsen (who in real life would have been just 29 at the time, a slight stretch for the 51-year-old Coster-Waldau) is following in the footsteps of an ill-fated prior attempt, aiming to recover the bodies or discoveries of the men who came before them. To make the final trek, he must leave his crew on the ship and brave the extremes, a 400-mile round trip that will require a partner. The only volunteer is mechanic Iver (Joe Cole), inexperienced but eager, and so the two set out, aware that they might never come back.

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