Review of Whiteout

Film Review – Whiteout
by Ben MacNair
‘Whiteout’ is one of those films that borrows so heavily from other films you remember what it borrows, and forget any originality.
It borrows a lumbering, quite predictable murder story line from a middling episode of Midsummer Murders, the Antartic setting of ‘The Thing’, the never ending sunlight or darkness of ‘Insomnia’, a prelude of a Russian plane crash and a twist which you suspect from the middle, and a number of other details.
It features Kate Beckinsale as Carrie Stetko, a Marshall in the tundra, serving the last few days of her service. A body is found, and she finds herself investigating the first murder in the Artic. Tom Skerritt plays an old friend, Doc, who is outwardly avuncular, and a number of other characters. I use the word character advisedly, for it is one of the things that is forgotten about.
The film looks good, but it has a number of serious flaws. The dialogue brings to mind Harrison Ford’s famous line to George Lucas during Star Wars: ‘You can write this shit, but you can’t read it’.
Characters are badly drawn. There is an FBI investigator who proves himself to be on the right side, the show-off pilot, who ends up being the murderer, a secret stash in the crashed Russian plane, which is at various time thought to be a weapon, or radio-active. It seems that the writers made it up on the day. The fact that the film was finished in 2007 is never a good sign.
Actors of the stature of Beckinsale or Skerrit deserve better than this. At one point, after losing two of her fingers to frost-bite, the only reaction Beckinsale shows is the type of tantrum we all throw when the computer loses our work, or a child might have. This is a traumatic event, but it does not come across as that. The bodies that feature are frozen, and so is the film.
There are a number of generic secondary characters, but the only ones that feature at all are Marshall, the kindly pilot, the FBI agent, and the Doctor, but he only stays behind to help the Pilot, who has been shot. They all stay behind, and cannot leave for six months due to the weather, but there is no real sense of isolation for the characters. Even when a hooded killer with a Ski mask on is terrorising the camp, none of the characters seem unduly concerned.
Throughout the film it keeps referring to the coldness, but there is still time for a gratuitous shower scene. This film could have been so much more than it is, but it is just a mess. It is not a long film, it just feels like one.

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