With the advent of special effects and life-like cartoons, the question continues to be posed: is the value of major actors in film deteriorating? Further pushing the issue are such films as The Hangover and a string of action flicks that have gone on to dominate the box office despite the lack of demonstrable stars. And yet, evidence of star power is in full force when the only good thing about a movie is the lead actor, as is the case with Kate Beckinsale in Whiteout. And sadly, the only highlight is a shower scene planted early enough in the movie to trick audiences into believing they may be seeing something worthwhile.
It's shallow to point out a shower scene - which contains no nudity, mind you - as a film's one stunning success, but in Whiteout's case, it's the truth. To be fair, the movie does begin relatively decently, with a Soviet jet crashing in Antarctica, but it all just goes down from there. The movie, based on a graphic novel and directed by Dominic Sena (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Swordfish), is about an U.S. Marshall who finds herself trapped in the coldest place on the planet with a deranged killer. It sounds cool, until you realize it's not.
The movie suffers from a variety of problems, including an unintelligible script, weak direction and one of the most anticlimactic endings of all time. Beckinsale doesn't make for a very good lead as she's trapped by an interminably dull character. Her character development depends entirely on shoddy flashbacks - to a back story that isn't even remotely interesting. It doesn't help that her one truly reliable asset - her looks - are bundled up under several layers of winter clothes (though she conveniently never wears a mask while wandering around outside, despite negative temperatures).
Whiteout is a boring thriller from beginning to end. The "suspense" sequences are uninspired and the bad guy completely predictable. The ending is terrible, a pitiful conclusion to a pitiful film. Despite the unique environment, Sena's production is incredibly underwhelming. The picture looks and feels like a low-budget C-grade film, likely because it is. Whiteout is lost in a snowstorm.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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