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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Thursday, Sep. 17, 2009 10 years ago

Film Review: 'Whiteout'


Savings tip: Don't waste your time or money on the new film, "Whiteout." This chiller-thriller starring Kate Beckinsale is anything but. A case of that liquid eraser bearing the same name couldn't save this sorry script.

Cleverly, the opening sequence is a grabber. A Soviet transport plane carrying a suspicious locked metal box crashes in Antarctica after a midair gunfight. Fifty years later, the frozen corpse of a missing geologist is discovered near the crash site. U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale), who is stationed at the research complex, is in charge of the investigation. Haunted by the betrayal and killing of her former partner (through hazy flashbacks), Carrie wonders if she's up to snuff for the job. Oh, and the clock's ticking at a race-against-time pace as a deadly winter storm approaches.

Just who's the bad guy? Is it the kindly old doctor (Tom Skerritt)? Perhaps that mysterious U.N. investigator, Robert Price (Gabriel Macht), is the axe-wielding culprit. Delfy (Columbus Short), the friendly pilot, seems to be a bit too neatly packaged. Or could it possibly be Agent Carrie Stetko herself? Who cares?

"Whiteout" generates a multitude of questions. For instance, what is an actor the caliber of Kate Beckinsale ("Cold Comfort Farm," "Brokedown Palace”) doing in this film? Why did Dominic Sena stoop to direct such claptrap after having made hits such as "Swordfish" and "Gone in Sixty Seconds?" The best action scenes are so obscured by blinding blizzards, one can't decipher what's happening on screen. And let's talk dialogue. Beckinsale is forced to utter cliche B-movie lines including, "Sam (huge pause), thanks." Lame.

Too bad. "Whiteout" could have been a frosty nail-biter in the right hands. Instead, it's an avalanche of missed opportunity.


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