Whiteout – Blu-ray Review
By Patrick Luce Mar 11, 2010, 13:02 GMT
The wind hammers at 100 MPH. The temperature plummets to -120 F. Nature doesn\'t intend for people at Amundsen-Scott Research Station to survive Antarctica. Neither does a mysterious killer who has committed the first-ever murder on that most remote of continents...and who will certainly kill again. "Underworld\'s" Kate Beckinsale plays a U.S. Marshal plunged into shocking mystery and racing to solve it before being stranded with six months of winter ...more
Based on a four-issue comic series from writer Greg Rucka and artist Steve Lieber, Whiteout is a by-the-numbers thriller that never really takes full advantage of its Antarctic setting and sticks too close to its formula to actually give any thrills.
The film was directed by Dominic Sena with screenplay writing duties handled by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes, and Carey Hayes. It stars Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin, and Shawn Doyle. The film’s title refers to an Antarctic storm where the killer cold, winds, and snow are so bad all you can see is white.
The film’s plot feels like it should be somewhat original with the opening kicking off in 1957 with a Russian cargo plane crash in Antarctica. The crash happens when the two pilots double cross the rest of the men – killing them in an attempt to steal something in a chest.
The plot then jumps to present day and focuses on U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale) as she tries to solve Antarctica’s first-ever murder. A body is discovered on the ice near a U.S. science station and Stetko, Dr. John Fury (Skerritt) and pilot Delfy (Short) are sent out to determine if it was a natural death or murder.
Once the body is back at the lab, Stetko is under the gun to solve the crime before the station shuts down for the six months of winter darkness season – where most of the staff and scientists leave the continent for a warmer climate or are forced to stick it out for the six months.
Fury tries to give Stetko an out by offering to let the cops back home deal with the dead body, but Stetko (who is carrying around some baggage from a bust gone bad earlier in her career) is unwilling to let it go. She flies out to the station where the dead man worked, and discovers UN agent Robert Pryce (Macht) - who has also been assigned to the case. She also stumbles onto the killer – who happens to be wearing a big Parka and swinging an ice pick.
Following the run-in with the killer, Stetko loses a couple of fingers to frostbite, and starts to question who she can trust at the station. The clock continues to tick as she rushes to discover who the real killer is before the last plane leaves for the season.
The film’s tension (or as much as it can gather as the killer and motive are easy to spot in the opening moments of the mystery) continues to build to the final showdown between Stetko and the killer – which happens to conveniently take place during a whiteout.
Whiteout is not a bad movie, but it really never gives you a solid reason to invest your time and focus on what is happening on the screen. Given the location, the thrills should have been tighter and it should have been much more suspenseful (such as John Carpenter’s The Thing and the way he used the cold landscape).
Instead, we get a fairly formulaic murder mystery that is really no mystery at all because you expect every twist and turn as the movie plays. The red herrings never deceive because it is easy to spot the killer (trying to stay spoiler free in the review). Instead of trying to solve the crime, you start to wonder how Stetko can’t figure it out.
Greg Rucka is a brilliant writer and knows how to weave a solid mystery or thriller. It is a shame that this adaptation fails to capture some of his brilliance on the screen. Instead, we get a well-acted film (Beckinsale is solid in her performance and the rest of the cast deliver dependable performances) that never really gels into a decent thriller.
Given that Stetko is against the gun to solve the mystery before the last plane leaves, Sena keeps the film’s pace moving. The director doesn’t let the story lag or give the viewer much time to grow bored with the predictability of the plot’s twist.
He also takes full advantage of the weather conditions of his setting and uses them as a character in the film. At times, it seems Stetko is not only up against the killer, but the cold itself – which is also a killer out to end her life in several different scenes in the film.
The Blu-ray looks great and the format is perfect for capturing all the little details of the film’s setting. With most of the outdoor scenes shot in Canada, the actors truly look like they are freezing (behind the scenes features show that they were), and the crystal clear picture helps sell the location as authentic.
The release also comes with some decent special features that take you behind the scenes to show how the film was shot, and its journey from comic to film. The behind the scenes feature includes interviews with cast, director, Rucka and Lieber (who both seem happy with the adaptation as they tour the set). There are also some additional scenes that are interesting but don’t save the film.
Although Whiteout is a bland thriller, the film continues to slowly grow on me (I have seen it about three times so far), and is worth watching. It doesn’t require much thought or effort for viewers wanting to solve the mystery, but the setting does keep the movie interesting.
Visit the DVD database for more information.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CAlex O'Loughlin Biography -
Alex O'Loughlin Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesGabriel Macht Biography -
Gabriel Macht Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesKate Beckinsale Biography -
Kate Beckinsale Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesTom Skerritt Biography -
Tom Skerritt Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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