Written by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber and Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes
Directed by Dominic Sena
Running Time: 1:41
Rated R for violence, grisly images, brief strong language and some nudity.
Whiteout was a run-of-the-mill murder mystery that had a really bad ending and nothing that really set it apart from any other film.
The gorgeous Kate Beckinsale stars as Federal Marshall Carrie Stetko. After a bad experience in Miami, Stetko banishes herself to the most Godforsaken place on the planet - Antarctica. There, she keeps the peace amongst research scientists and other people crazy enough to spend time where the average temperature is -50F. Two days before she is due to retire, a pilot finds a body in the ice near their camp. Stetko heads the investigation which leads to another murder and the discovery of a Russian military plane which had gone missing 50 years earlier. Stetko must now determine who the killer is before the base is evacuated, or be forced to spend 6 months in the dark, alone with a murderer.
I didn't have high hopes for Whiteout considering the studio buried it in September. I love (am in love with) Kate Beckinsale, so she's really the only reason I had any interest in going. And the director was nice enough to have her strip to her underwear and take a shower within the first few minutes of the film. Unfortunately however, that R rating that mentioned nudity? Not her. The rest of the movie was downhill from there. Then again, most movies would have gone downhill from there. Anyway, the hook of this movie is that it takes place on the coldest part of the planet. But that's also where the problems arise. First off, considering the temperature was -55 to -65 degrees Fahrenheit why were people walking around without their nose and mouth covered? If I remember correctly, at that temperature, your lungs would freeze with every breath. And so while the characters made a show of putting on gloves and hats and jackets, and the opening scene showed Stetko removing layer after layer of clothing, no one ever covered their mouths. And no one ever had chapped lips. I didn't like that very much. I did enjoy the fact that the theater I saw the movie in had the air conditioning turned up high enough that I felt like I could relate to the characters. The other problem I had associated with the location of the film may have actually been why they decided not to cover the characters mouths when they were outside. In the climactic fight scene, there was so much snow and the characters were so covered (except again, for their mouths) that you couldn't see who was fighting whom. It's kind of sad that you build up to this moment and then you can't see anything.
There were other actors in the film besides Kate, although she was definitely the highlight of the movie. You had Tom Skerritt as the kindly old doctor who just wants to get home to his granddaughter. He could have sleepwalked through this role and no one would have noticed. Gabriel Macht was the U.N. guy who got sent down to help with the investigation. He reminded me of a poor man's Bradley Cooper. Alex O'Loughlin, much more popular these days for his TV ventures, was a pilot who may or may not be mixed up in the murder and madness. All in all, no one had a lot to work with so while it was nice seeing recognizable faces, it didn't matter much. None of the characters were the least bit interesting. The writers tried desperately to fashion a mystery out of the murders, but judging from the fact the film has 4 listed screenwriters, I get the feeling by the end they just decided to pick a name out of the hat and call him (or her) the murderer.
And here is where I may give away the ending so skip ahead if you don't want to know how the movie ends. The entire movie is spent trying to throw suspicion on Macht's character. So much so that if you've ever seen a movie before, you know full well he has nothing to do with it. We also get to see this crazy back story for Beckinsale's character which, ultimately, has nothing to do with anything. By the time we get to the end of the movie, the entire base has been evacuated except for four people and 1 murderer. But when the killer is killed off and the movie didn't end... well, there comes the twist. And it was the most non-sensical twist imaginable. Not only is the kindly old doctor in on it all, they give him an explanation of 'they owe me!' Who owes you and for what?? And then after a 30 second non-sensical monologue, he kills himself. I got the impression that they realized the movie was pointless so they threw in a twist to try and build some intrigue. And instead, failed miserably.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, beyond Kate Beckinsale, I have no love for Whiteout. It's one of those movies that you might be interested in a few years from now when there's nothing else on TV.