Okay, okay! I’ll respect the restraining order!

Theatrical Release Date: 09/11/2009
Director: Dominic Sena
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin

If you’ve seen the trailer for “Whiteout”, then you have not only seen the highlight of this film, but probably gotten the gist of the plot. Just in case though, here’s a brief synopsis:

Just as the sun is about to set for six months over Antarctica, U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) attempts to solve a bizarre string of murders before the research center closes for the winter. Stetko must race against the clock as not only is a deadly whiteout is fast approaching, but suspects are leaving in droves as the last flights out begin preparing for take-off. With winter quickly closing in, will she be able to solve this case before a murder gets away for good?

As you can see, the plot is basic enough with the harsh, yet beautiful Antarctic as an imposing backdrop and second villain. The cinematography is gorgeous, with wide sweeping shots of white mountains and barren plains giving the audience a quick glimpse at the harsh, foreboding and unrelenting beauty of the region. The soundtrack was unimpressive and easily forgettable. The acting was average, but perfectly fitting to the genre. As a murder/mystery suspense thriller, the pace is painfully slow, with too much time spent on the character development of Stetko.

The film desperately needs a good deal of editing and streamlining. This could have been most easily achieved if the film’s director (Dominic Sena) had cut down on the number of flashbacks used. The truth is that after the first two or three flashbacks, I clearly understood that Stetko had some major trust issues and obviously suffered from post-traumatic stress. It simply wasn’t necessary to beat the audience over the head with the event. I found it quite annoying that this one scene played so many times, each time adding a second or two more information, that I began to wonder if I was watching “Groundhog Day”.

The mystery aspect of the film is fair, unless you’re a huge mystery buff like myself, then it is only mediocre. Unfortunately, I figured out who did it relatively quickly (about 15 minutes after the first body) and though there were moments of doubt, little swayed my initial decision, and in the end I turned out to be right on the money. The suspense and thriller aspects of the film were decent, with one or two good jumps involved and some okay fight scenes, but I expected more tension, worry, and stress from a good suspense film. I want to feel my stomach in my throat, and my heart beating furiously, perhaps even scream or jump a little unexpectedly but… this movie just didn’t deliver.

The tag line of this movie is “see your last breath” which is apropos given that you may very well want to die if you spent your hard-earned cash to see this film in theaters. Okay, I’m being dramatic and overly critical. Honestly this is a decent flick, especially if you pick it up at a rental store or catch it late one night on TV, but it is not worth the trip to the big screen. In other words, there are far better of the same genre in a variety of media including “Usual Suspects” (movie), ‘Ten Little Indians’ (play), and ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ (book), so save your money and see/read something else, I’m giving “Whiteout” a 2 out of 5.