Review: WHITEOUT (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Review: WHITEOUT (2009)


WHITEOUT is as cold as a frozen turkey. That is pretty much sum up for this long-delayed film. Once a hotly-anticipated blockbuster that has an appealing Kate Beckinsale on the central role; a film that is based from Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber's highly-regarded graphic novel and a fascinating premise that revolves around the "first murder in the Antarctica". But that was two and a half years ago, and the film has been collecting dust inside the vault of Warner Bros studio with release dates were constantly reshuffled.

The film begins quite interesting, though, as a Soviet plane carrying a suspicious metal box and a gunfight quickly ensues between the five Russian soldiers shooting against each otherm ends up with the plane crashing in the middle of Antarctica. The following scene, is a lengthy tracking shot that follows U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale), entering the South Pole's Amundsen-Scott Base, passing the corridors filled with other co-workers before ending up inside her room as she prepares for a hot shower. Yeah, despite some glimpse of nudity during that gratuitous shower scene, the filmmaker clearly wanted to let the viewers know that the actress in a superb, hourglass shape. That is by the far the most exciting moment happens in the film, but too bad what follows next, is a series of uninspired and weak storyline that drags until a lame cop-out ending. A dead body was found on the ice, and the victim happened to be a geologist whom she knew. She and her best friend, Doc (Tom Skerrit), the facility's MD, transported the body back into the base for autopsy. Apparently the corpse turns out to be an obvious murder but that quickly raises the all-important question: Who could be the culprit in such a desolate place commited such murder? As Stetko continues investigating the murder, more bodies start to pile up, and at the same time she encounters a ski-mased, hooded killer armed with a grappling hook trying to kill her. On the other hand, she, U.N. investigator Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht), and pilot Delfy (Columbus Short) also stumble upon a Soviet cargo plane buried in the snow that has crash-lnaded in the area fifty years earlier. Inside the plane lies a locked box, in which its unknown contents are more than enough important enough for someone to kill for them. And to make things woest, six dark months of winter are creeping in and a major snowstorm is approaching if Stetko and her company doesn't solve the murder in time.

It has been so long since director Dominic Sena helmed a feature (his last film was 2001's SWORDFISH) and it's a surprise, considered his adequate directing experience in the past, is really rusty here over his technical skill. Just about everything in this film feels amateurish, and he's clearly the wrong man for the job to tackle a film that is not particularly action-oriented. He doesn't know how to time the right moment for the pace, as everything feels moribund and the suspense feels pretty short.

The cast, in the meantime, is as disappointing as they goes. Despite the eye-catching presence of always-lovely Kate Beckinsale, she doesn't look particularly ideal playing a convincing tough role of a U.S. Marshal with a dark past. Maybe in the past, especially in her first two UNDERWORLD films, she really sells herself as an action heroine but that's because she was a leather-clad vampire. Here, unfortunately, she shows up nothing more than dressed up in full gear wrapped up in coats, gloves and hats while speaking in soft-spoken dialogue -- with little display of acting credibility. To make things worst, her supposedly interesting character proves to be annoyingly redundant -- especially the film tends to get repetitive with the same old flashbacks of her past that subsequently pops up from time to time.

Another faulty outcome is first-time screenwriters Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber and veterans Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes' lackluster script who plays too straight for this kind of psychological thriller convention without even bothering to spin something fresh or original to the overall effort.

What's left are the remaining little credits deserved for this otherwise miserable junk of a film -- the film's location setting at Manitoba, Canada does convincingly stands in for Antarctica, and Chris Soos does quite a beautiful job lensing the frozen landscape with eye-catching result. The other one is the climatic wind-whipped action scene, in which Stetko and Pryce cling desperately to guide lines while fighting against the ice-ax wielding killer -- is tautly staged. It's a terrible shame about the anticlimatic ending, though. Once the motive and the culprit is eventually revealed, you will be left in frustration with jaw-dropping disappointment that screamed -- "What the f**k?".

This is a film that should have left out in the cold and never to be seen the light of the day.

1 comment:

Free Movies said...

I saw this film last night while going into my London flight. I went into the film without any real expectations. I only knew the cast and saw a short blurb on the premise.