Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review - Whiteout

A U.S. Marshall stationed in Antarctica is only three days away from the start of the Antarctic winter when a homicide occurs. Joining up with a U.N. Operative, U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko uncovers a mystery trapped beneath the ice that leads to new suspects and more murders. As Stetko and U.N. Operative Robert Pryce investigate the murders, they realize that a killer is among them. With six months of darkness closing in, Stetko and Pryce must find the killer before they find themselves one of the dead.

"Whiteout" was a film that I had high hopes for about two years ago. I initially saw the Dark Castle panel at SDCC in 2007 for the icebound thriller starring Kate Beckinsale and directed by Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds and Swordfish) and left excited for what could be a enjoyable thriller. Unfortunately, "Whiteout" didn't end up taking advantage of it's full potential. The 101 minute thriller never gave me any reason to latch on. The story is, for the most part, uneventful and lacking any real urgency. The supporting performances around Beckinsale are stale and distracting to say the least, and the by the end of the film I was left wondering why should I even care.

Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber penned a screenplay that had the potential to be immersing and thrilling, instead it was uneventful and uninspired. Nothing is more thrilling than an icebound setting where you cannot see more than 6 inches in front of your face, but in "Whiteout" the screenplay never took full advantage of it's surroundings until the very end. Suspense and thriller's generally create a real sense of terror through giving the viewer something to gravitate towards, but here this sadly never happens. U.S. Marshall Stetko and U.N. Operative Robert Pryce's investigation drags along, even though it is clear from the get go, who the killer is. The story crawls up through the third act, until finally some real action happens in the final 20 minutes. The engaging final action sequence is then soiled by a dreadful finale that had me giggling in disbelief.

The killer in "Whiteout" was a huge disappointment as well. I had hoped that the film would have spent more time with the masked killer stalking both Stetko and Pryce in their investigation. Instead we get a suspense free investigation, with the killer never playing a major part until the final 20 minutes of film. The few moments the killer is actually on screen, are bittersweet, due to the fact their potential is never fully utilized.

Another avenue in "Whiteout" that I found too distracting, was the special effects. The crystallization effects done throughout the film are laughable. They take away any sense of realism the film had tried to created. The snow storms that Stetko and Pryce find themselves caught in, on the other hand, were some of the best scenes in the movie. They proved to be the only intense moments in a film that should have had a lot more.

As for the performances, Kate Beckinsale is definitely easy on the eyes, but her character is awfully dull. Beckinsale plays U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko, who is days away from turning in her badge, when the first murder in Antarctica takes place. Her backstory tries to connect the viewer to her flat character, but unsuccessfully. Beckinsale can be credited as carrying the film, because outside of her performance, it is all downhill.

Gabriel Macht is a terrible actor. He has no charisma. His dismal performance comes off as grating and irksome all the way through. Macht's deliveries are reminiscent of a high school drama class and do nothing but pull the viewer out of the movie every time he opens his mouth. Tom Skerritt, who predominantly delivers solid performances in the past, is lost in a bad script and character development. His character Dr. John Fury, is translucent leaving the viewer easily to pick apart his portrayal.

Despite all of the negatives I found in "Whiteout," the film has a high re-watchable factor. Director Dominic Sena does the best he could with a script that could have benefited from a few re-writes. The story does takes too long to get rolling, but the end, is exciting enough that I would watch the film again. "Whiteout" is one of those movies, that can just be watched. It doesn't take any concentration and doesn't require the viewer to become engrossed in order to find some enjoyment. You could probably pick it up at any point in the film, be able to deduce what is going on and find some form of enjoyment from it. Finally, "Whiteout" is definitely worth a watch, just don't expect it to thrill you in any way.