CM – Mad for Mads: Why Mads Mikkelsen is one of the best in the business


Denmark is famous for many things. Two of them are my personal favorites … Bacon and Mads Mikkelsen. Before we start a bacon war here with Canadian readers or my British, I’m joking. Well, not quite. Mads Mikkelsen really is the ace in the pack. For most viewers who count English as their first language, Mikkelsen is best known for two important breakout parts. For anyone who has seen him beyond and in his domestic films, he is also known for a variety of extraordinary works, often anchored by his particularly outstanding work.

It was Casino Royale that gave me my first introduction to Mikkelsen gave. The film itself has restarted a franchise that is in danger of tired of trying to follow the month’s taste trends. The casino felt fresh and invigorating. Daniel Craig made an auspicious debut as Bond, full of vigor and stoic intensity that he was never able to match afterwards. Nevertheless, among the large set pieces (the opening hunt is still one of the great set pieces of the 21st century) and the beautiful mix of tradition / revolution, I noticed one of them all. Mikkelsen. For one thing, giving us an intense, dangerous, and intellectual enemy for Bond was a wise twist, but also adding a complexity and a daring twist. Le Chiffre wasn’t an atypical Bond villain. He was a bad player. He was a mediator. A middle man. Though he had a reckless element, he lived on the edge, forever a bad hand of cards away from being unceremoniously offended by a higher criminal entity (Specter). He carried himself more than that, but he was of an intermediate level. Oddjob probably had a better standing in the underworld. Still, it’s fatal. He’s a schemer and a Bond villain who is definitely the top tier along with a select few (like the incredibly intense Robert Shaw).

An actor Mikkelsen found charismatic for his ability to be cold yet enigmatic and yet being extremely intense came to mind, was Rutger Hauer. Hauer was always one of my favorite actors, and Mikkelsen has a similar quality. It is partly a whiff of the euro puzzle, especially since Denmark is not quite different from its closest neighbors in Western Europe in Germany and Holland. There is cultural overlap and, in terms of the aesthetics and style of cinema, not too dissimilar between Nordic cinema and German and Dutch. Like Hauer and Stellan Skarsgaard, Mikkelsen has only a certain ability to evoke complex emotions through contemplative actions and stoicism. But like these, it can also explode with a hypnotic effect.

The fact is, no one in the Bond universe has become that interesting, especially when it comes to unique motivations. Javier Bardem was certainly great, but it felt Shakespeare. I love Skyfall, also for its daring deviations from the formula. The very personal aspect was different for Bond, although it was perhaps deeply familiar (and besides, Bardem wasn’t a great country). There is often a tendency for European actors (which also extend to British) to have their American breakout and stay there. While Mikkelsen has flirted with roles in films like Rogue One in American cinema, there is a distinct feeling that he’s underutilized. He will be in Indiana Jones 5 as recently announced. Something that might have felt tired and scratched a bit like a barrel suddenly feels a little more interesting when you have Mads. Again, he’s great at Rogue One and Doctor Strange, but as a fan, I feel like he deserves a better movie around. That definitely goes for Netflix star Polar, of course.

When I felt intrigued by the extraordinary talents Mikkelsen possesses, I kept track and went back in retrospect to make his charismatic debut in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher series see. He was certainly in good company with Kim Bodnia in Pusher before becoming more central in the first sequel. The signs of a star were obvious. A captivating on-screen command and the ability to make exciting, characterful decisions. The Hunt is a film that deals with a difficult subject, with the intensity and gritty approach rarely found in American studio cinema (which may step into eggshells or move away from a sense of reality instead of melodrama). His world begins to collapse when a naive lie from a kindergarten student gets out of hand. It’s a gripping film driven by subtle direction (by Thomas Vinterberg), interesting character dynamics, and one of the best performances of the last decade by Mikkelsen. It’s a great job, both rewarding and difficult to watch.

Mikkelsen and Vinterberg reunited last year and the result was yet another film that should appeal to audiences around the world and prove to be a critical blast. In another round you see Mikkelsen as a restless teacher whose life is already dissolving, which is reinforced by an attempt to drink that inevitably gets out of control. Again, there’s a nice balance between introspective work and emotional outbursts, often fueled by the characters’ drunken state (and an already infamous dance scene). It’s a film that seems disappointingly underrepresented at the Oscars, aside from Vinterberg picking up a nod for a direction you’d call a real outside bet. Still, sufficient proof that Mikkelsen continues to do strong and interesting work in his homeland and is well balanced with the big paydays in Hollywood (where he always offers a spark).

Riders of Justice sees Mikkelsen as a Danish equivalent into something of Liam Neeson’s Post Taken shtick. There is a difference, however. It seems to have more of a grounded intensity and interesting character dynamic, with a touch of humor. It’s apparently not a checklist for genre movie formulas like a future Hollywood remake might be (should the movie have enough cult appeal). Also, to a certain extent, it’s the kind of thriller that they do so well in the Nordic countries. A nice mix of drama, humor, strong graphics and intense performance. Although it exists within a simple formula, it is treated (in theory anyway) with a little more artistic value. It looks great and is at the top of my watch list.

While I wait (eagerly) for Riders of Justice to be released, I’m just about to run through Hannibal after I finally got to visit it (thanks Amazon). I was amazed at the intensity of the show, the more surreal aspects and definitely the tailoring. Even for me, a horror lover, this is sometimes grotesque. There are some horrific post-mortem crime scenes while Hannibal’s expert butcher shop pulls the hair up on the nape of the neck as well. As a character so iconic through film and literature, playing Lecter carries a lot of weight. Mikkelsen offers his own unique twist on the character, which makes him extremely fascinating and totally magnetic. The cancellation of the shows still leaves fans asking for more, and in the Netflix revival era, who knows. Whether Mikkelsen wants to return is another matter of course.

In the future we can expect more great work from Mikkelsen. Like Hauer, he probably has the difficulty of possibly being typed by American studios, who have resigned themselves to his unique intensity, to play the bad guy. No doubt, however, he would have the gravitas to take home an Oscar if he got a plum role outside of the blockbuster tariff. It will happen one day.

What do you think of Mads Mikkelsen? What is your favorite of his performances? Let us know on our social channels @ flickeringmyth …

Tom Jolliffe is an award-winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films on DVD / VOD around the world and several releases due out in 2021/2022, including Renegades (Lee Majors, Danny Trejo, Michael Pare, Tiny Lister, Patsy Kensit, Ian Ogilvy and Billy Murray). Taking action when darkness falls and the war of the worlds: The Attack (Vincent Regan). For more information, visit the best personal website you’ll ever see …

Filed Under: Articles and Opinions, Featured, Movies, Tom Jolliffe Tagged with: Another Round, Casino Royale, Doctor Strange, Mads Mikkelsen, Pusher, Rider of Justice, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Hunt

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