Saturday 16 July 2022

Movie Review: Whiteout (2009)

A crime thriller, Whiteout enjoys a chilly setting but is hampered by an elemental plot and pedestrian execution.

In a prologue set in 1957, a Soviet military cargo plane crashes during a flight over Antarctica after a violent shootout between the co-pilot and armed guards. Everyone on-board is killed.

In the present, Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is a US Marshal responsible for security at a South Pole scientific research base. Along with doctor John Fury (Tom Skerritt), she starts to investigate when the dead body of a geologist is spotted on the open ice by pilot Delfy (Columbus Short). Carrie learns the victim was murdered and dropped from a plane, and two other geologists are missing and on the run. 

UN investigator Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht) arrives unexpectedly to help, but Carrie is not sure she can trust him. She has to evade a mysterious axe-wielding assailant, and the body count mounts. Carrie finds evidence the geologists discovered the Soviet plane under the ice, the precious cargo triggering greed and murder. With a massive storm moving in and the base being evacuated for the winter, Carrie has limited time to identify the conspirators.

Whiteout boasts an inhospitable locale where the mere act of outdoor survival for just a few minutes can be an arduous challenge. Director Dominic Sena leverages nature's dangerous magnificence with frequent excursions outside the confines of the research base. Whether the characters are on the open ice or battling fearsome storms, the perils of Antarctica are always evident.

Unfortunately, everything else here is routine in the extreme. Four authors are credited with collaborating on the script, and the outcome is still a letdown. Carrie's tired backstory consists of routine emotional trauma prompting her to seek the most remote job assignment on the planet. The MacGuffin secret cargo at the root of the mystery has the lamest of revelations. And all the madman-with-an-axe horror moments - and these are plenty and lengthy - are straight out of teen slasher flicks, and edited into a jerky dark mess.

Kate Beckinsale brings a winning attitude and does her best to power through the material, but she is also unnecessarily subjected to a superfluous shower scene. Tom Skerritt adds welcome veteran heft to the cast. 

Whiteout does pack potential, but it's quickly iced.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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