Review: Whiteout

Posted on September 16, 2009

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I went to see Whiteout this past weekend, and here are my thoughts.

Synopsis

Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is a US Marshal stationed at Antarctica’s South Pole research base. The six-month night is only days away when a body is discovered on the ice. Stetko realizes she’s facing Antarctica’s first murder. With a storm racing in and all personnel trying to evacuate, Stetko tries to solve the crime and stay alive.

Gratuitous Beckinsale

Although she spends most of the film dressed reasonably for the setting, in multiple layers of ECW (extreme cold weather) gear, audiences are treated to Ms. Beckinsale stripping down for a shower at the beginning of the film. It panders to the audience that loved her in leather and vinyl in the Underworld movies. As much as I’m a raging heterosexual, I felt demeaned watching that scene. It’s completely gratuitous and unnecessary.

Source Material

Whiteout is based on a graphic novel of the same title written by Greg Rucka, with art by Steve Lieber. I’m a big fan of Mr. Rucka’s writing, and I was delighted by how much of it remained in the film. I applaud Dominic Sena’s choice to film the movie his way, rather than making a slavish adaptation like 300 or Sin City, while still remaining loyal to the source.

Review

This is a good solid thriller. It’s not much of a mystery. It’s been long enough since I read the graphic novel that I didn’t remember every twist and turn, and I still figured out the mystery well before the end. As a thriller, though, I enjoyed it right to the end credits.

  • Good: I can’t remember the last film I saw that made the setting as much a character as this film does. Shot in Quebec and Manitoba, it made me want to move to Antarctica.
  • Good: Kate Beckinsale is smart and tough in this movie, and I was glad they cast her.
  • Good: The supporting cast was very good, despite not being well-known.
  • Bad: The movie beats several points home with a hammer. The entire preface section at the beginning of the movie could have been cut shorter and used as flashbacks later in the film.
  • Bad: Why does anyone cast Gabriel Macht in anything? He’s instantly forgettable. Sorry, dude, but as much work as you’ve done, I’d think you’d be more magnetic and memorable.
  • Bad: There’s a bit near the end where Marshal Stetko should know who the remaining conspirator is, and instead of going to look for him or to make sure others are safe, she does some investigating that she could have done at any time during the next six months. It’s a failing in the pacing of the film.

On my Netflix scale, it’s easily worth 3 stars out of 5 (liked it).

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Posted in: Movies