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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Whiteout

MOVIE REVIEWS

WHITEOUT (2009)

Starring Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Joel Keller, Jesse Todd, Arthur Holden and Steve Lucescu.

Written by Jon Hoeber & Eric Hoeber and Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes.

Directed by Dominic Sena.

Distributed by Warner Bros.  101 minutes.  Rated R.

 

Everyday Beautiful

Whiteout 

I have been debating whether I should use the obvious, punny opening line for this review: Someone should have taken white-out to the script. 

First of all, it’s a tiny bit mean.  No matter how uninteresting and often awkward as this films script may be, someone must have put some hard work into crafting it.  (At least four “someones,” actually, as the film is credited to Jon Hoeber & Eric Hoeber and Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes – leading one to wonder if this is the first film ever written by two pairs of brothers, assuming that the similar names are not just all a coincidence.) 

Secondly, I was a little apprehensive about using the white-out line because we are about fifteen to twenty years into the post-typewriter era.  Some of our younger readers may not remember what white-out was – a liquid paper solvent used to cover up typing mistakes.  It was sort of the old-fashioned equivalent of the delete key. 

Whiteout is apparently based on an “acclaimed graphic novel.”  (Never heard of it, but I don’t claim to be the most up to date on that world.)  It hardly seems like the stuff of a graphic novel.  It is actually a pretty uninspired murder mystery which tries to make itself seem more interesting by using a very unusual setting – a scientific base located at the South Pole. 

It’s not even particularly visually rich – except for the stunning Antarctic scenery.  In fact many of the action scenes are nearly unintelligible due to the swirling snow and myst and the heavily bundled characters.  It is all too easy to lose track of who is doing what to whom. 

The film starts with a fifty-year-old prologue – one that makes little sense and pretty much sets the stage with the audience thinking, “Are you kidding me?”  On a Russian plane flying over Antarctica, one of the crew members suddenly starts a gun fight with his comrades (these are Cold War Russians, after all), causing the plane to crash on the frozen tundra.  Okay, I get that you have some valuable cargo on board, but doesn’t it make more sense to wait until you are safe on solid ground land before making your move?  Bullet holes and flying airplanes don’t mix well. 

Flash forward to present day.  Kate Beckinsale is Carrie Stetko, an US Marshall who is assigned as apparently the only law officer in a huge Antarctic scientific base which houses hundreds of people.  Carrie decided to take this offbeat assignment to forget a past case which went violently awry – a case which the film teasingly flashes back to at least five times.  However, Carrie has done her time in the frozen tundra and now she is looking forward to a transfer to a more bikini-worthy climate. 

In a few days the Antarctic winter will begin, so anyone who wants to leave has to go before the bad weather sets in or be stuck there for six months.  They will be in the midst of a months-long “whiteout” – a perfect storm of violent snow, whipping winds and low temperatures which can kill a man in a matter of minutes if they are stuck outside. 

Carrie’s transfer is put in jeopardy when a new gung-ho pilot happens upon what looks like a dead body in the middle of an ice flow.  The body has no equipment and little in the way of extra clothing – so how did he get to the middle of a desolate area? 

Being a veteran law officer, it only takes a couple of minutes for Carrie to figure out that there is something fishy about this death.  (I admit it, I had to stifle a giggle when she suddenly but forcefully stated “This was no accident!”) 

Sensing something big happening, the UN sends a handsome, rugged operative (Gabriel Macht) to get the situation under control – a move that of course irks the self-reliant Carrie.  He is sent because this is “the first murder ever” in Antarctica – though if you get technical the ones that happened during the prologue would be.  The Fed has no real way of knowing that, though, so we’ll give him a pass.  Besides, it turns out that isn’t exactly why he is there, anyway. 

However, once the Antarctic’s murder virginity is punctured, bodies start to turn up all over the place.  The deeper the mystery goes the more chance there is that everyone will be missing that transport plane.  Then they will be stuck there with a killer! 

Thus leads to a bunch of completely incomprehensible action and fight scenes.  All that swirling snow is awe-inspiring and gorgeous, but it makes it nearly impossible to follow the action. 

The showdown with the eventual criminal – a bad guy so obvious that I had pegged him as the doer a good hour before – has to be the most anti-climactic climax in the history of the Antarctic murder genre. 

Okay, the murder genre in general.  That was just a joke.  Because, you know, no one has ever been murdered in Antarctica before. 

Yawn.  What else is on?

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 23, 2010.

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Copyright ©2010  PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 23, 2010.

 

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