Review by Jack Foley
YOU have to admire the audacity of a director that will set his film in one of the coldest places on Earth and still get his leading lady to pointlessly strip off within the first 10 minutes.
Sadly, that’s just about all there is to admire about Whiteout, a bland, forgettable thriller set in Antarctica that offers few genuine thrills.
Based on the Eisner Award-nominated graphic novel of the same name, the film stars Kate Beckinsale as US Marshall Carrie Stetko who is charged with investigating Antarctica’s first murder just days before a severe weather front closes in.
Assisting her is an investigative team that’s equally keen to avoid spending six more months on the frozen desert, including Tom Skerritt’s kindly doc John Fury and Gabriel Macht’s Robert Pryce.
But while the crime seems linked to the discovery of a crashed Russian aircraft and its mysterous freight, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who can be trusted, particularly as Stetko has her own past reasons for not trusting colleagues.
To be fair, Dominic Sena’s film boasts a pretty decent set-up and location but is hampered by some flat-footed direction that fails to capitalise on the opportunity.
The extreme nature of the conditions is only fleetingly realised, there’s not much tension and the set pieces – when they come – are often confused.
The last act reveal is also painfully obvious to anyone with a firm appreciation for the whodunit genre.
Beckinsale struggles manfully to create a believable heroine and there are moments that stick in the memory, such as a painful amputation scene.
But Whiteout ultimately struggles to hold much interest because of its cumbersome direction and unremarkable script.
You inadvertently spend more time listing the film’s locational and environmental implausibilities than really concentrating (or caring) about who lives and who dies.
Running time: 101mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 25, 2010