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© 2009 Warner Bros

Director: Dominic Sena
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin
RunTime: 1 hr 41 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG (Some violence and disturbing scenes)
Official Website: http://www.whiteoutmovie.com/

Opening Day: 17 September 2009


Carrie Stetko, the lone U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica, is investigating the continent’s first murder, which draws her into a shocking mystery. Now, with only three days until winter, Carrie must solve the crime before Antarctica is plunged into darkness and she is stranded with the killer.

Movie Review:

If you've not read the comic book by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, the synopsis would have you imagine that you're prepped for one heck of an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Unfortunately, Whiteout at no point in time seemed capable of providing that potential for mystery, nor does it have the bandwidth to keep you guessing. You'll find yourself really not caring too much about whatever or whoever the characters are searching for, and are probably going to enjoy this a lot more if you're expecting no more than a standard police drama/action flick.

Fans of Kate Beckinsale who have sorely missed her pasty white features from the Underworld films, will have to make do with her role here as the sole US Marshal in Antarctica, guardian of the peace amongst the scientific research community, who also possesses those equally pale features due to the lack of a good sun tan. Wrapped up most of the time in thick clothing, one wonders what Dominic Sena must have been thinking for that introduction to her character, where you're given an idea just how cold it is out there in the ice continent, and that establishing shot of Beckinsale's butt, probably crediting it to walking around the various camps, doing her rounds, and solving petty cases.

The routine, non-challenging career of hers turns upside down just as when everyone got down to preparing for an evacuation from an impending storm and 6 months of winter, and she has to face a body found with mysterious wounds, proving to be that stumbling block toward freedom under the warm sunshine of Miami. So begins the proverbial cat and mouse game of investigations with prime suspects tossed up at every corner especially once Beckinsale's Carrie Stetko reveals her back story, which comes with plenty of trust issues and baggage, helped in no part by the rather low key male counterparts in Dr. John Fury (Tom Skerritt), UN Investigator Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht) and pilot Delfy (Columbus Short), who is probably the most invisible of all sidekicks.

Having watched Werner Herzog's documentary Encounters at the End of the World, I dare say I have a reasonably good glimpse into how the research community at the Antarctica operate. While one can say this is a work of fiction, there are a number of scenes here which are depicted fairly accurately, such as the briefing to newbies where the objective is to emphasize on safety first, and to allow for first hand experience of the dangers one could face in sub zero temperatures, under a controlled scenario of course. Others though were quite telling in the technical need to literally show face, hence one wonders if that kind of temperatures do allow you to go unmasked in the lower half of the face without the lips go cracking up.

I have to admit I've not read the source material, but Dominic Sen had crafted the set action pieces in quite matter-of-fact fashion, with little frills. At some points you're just going to scream at Carrie for not whipping out and using that handgun of hers (which you're constantly being reminded of through close-ups), or thanks to the director in wanting you to experience a whiteout, have the blizzard constantly whipping everything on screen into a white, leaving you barely able to make out who's actually who. There's a reason to this visual madness of course, but one that had its potential for mystery and surprises, cliche though they may be, all thrown out the window, resulting in rather adrenaline-less action pieces.

Whiteout isn't all that bad of course, though I'm finding it really hard pressed to merit any scene which stood out. It works as an average police action thriller that plods quite slowly, a far cry from Sena's earlier adrenaline-pumping films like Gone in Sixty Seconds and Swordfish.

Movie Rating:

(Like plain old vanilla white – a good base lacking in ingredients to
spice it up..)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Doomsday (2008)

. Vacancy (2007)

. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

. Rise: Blood Hunter (2007)

. Underworld Evolution (2006)


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