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Whiteout (2009)

by on 2012/04/07

“You are better than this and I think you know that.”

* *

I really love Kate Beckinsale. In fact, I professed my love for her on this very site last year in my review of Underworld.

So my interest in Whiteout, based on the Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber comic book of the same name, made sense. Whiteout was the chance to watch Beckinsale battle baddies in frost-bitten cold of Antarctica.

So far so cool.

But there was more. There was a Russian cargo plane crash, an axe murder most foul, an interesting look at life on the south pole, and a gorgeous, dangerous wasteland full of ice and snow.

Perhaps my fondness for movies that involve ice and snow has something to do with my upbringing in the far North.

Yes, I knew about the bad reviews. I bought the film anyway, with a stout heart and faith. You see, I sometimes disagree with the great and cynical Internet. Take for instance Constantine, a movie that was universally panned, which I plan to drool all over on this site later this month.

I hoped Whiteout would be one of those unjustly criticized flicks.

Alas, it was not.

Each of the two stars I am giving Whiteout are for the lovely, courageous Beckinsale because she acted her frozen ass off in Whiteout. But the rest of her Antarctica crew let her down. And by let her down, I mean, sent her off on an ice floe to die… metaphorically speaking.

Beckinsale plays U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko, a law enforcement official with a troubled past.

Let me tell you, we get to see a few pivotal minutes of her troubled past, over and over and over during film. And over and over. Who would have thought I could resent a sepia-toned sequence involving gunplay this much? But I did.

Director Dominic Sena mustn’t have had much faith in his audience. The repetition of flashbacks seemed to shout at the audience, “Hey dullards, this is important, ok?” Even watching the film in increasingly squirmy discomfort, I got it the first two times.

Then there was Beckinsale’s fellow lawman Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht). Delivering each line like he was reading an audio book on small household repairs and cleaning tips, Macht was as dull as Antarctica mess hall dishwater.

Finally, there was the crusty old doctor and Carrie’s confidante, Doc John Fury, played by Tom Skerritt (Alien). Skerritt looked just plain tired and bored throughout. Maybe he was just freezing and crabby. After watching Whiteout, so was I.

There were so many good ideas in this ice and snow-choked mystery. It was a comic book film with Beckinsale on its side, but it didn’t work. Not in any way.

* *

101 minutes

Rated R for a frank depiction of the perils of frostbite, finger amputations, bloody corpses, fleeting nudity and frosh week levels of drinking

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