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Movie Review: Whiteout (September, 2009)

Director: Dominic Sena
Screenplay: Jon & Eric Hoeber
Actors: Kate Beckinsale, syringe Tom Skerrit, more about Gabriel Macht
Date of Release: September 11, 2009
*Based on the Graphic Novel by Greg Rucka (Marvel)

Whiteout is a suspense thriller that offers enough guessing throughout to make it interesting. In a series of rather shaky shots, we are introduced to Kate Beckinsale’s (Underworld) character – United States Marshall Carrie Stetko and we follow her into the shower (which must have been thrown in for all the Kate Beckinsale fans, since the rest of the movie, she is very much clothed). The plot, which involves a crashed Russian cargo plane in which its passengers die in a shoot out over a mysterious box in the 1950s, is worked into modern day, when a series of bodies start to show up and Carrie has to investigate what has happened.

Walking into the theatre, I wasn’t sure what to expect, except from what I had seen in the trailer. The trailer in some ways, misled me into thinking it was to be a non-stop action or horror film. I had no idea if the killings were by human or monster judging by the trailer, and I had expected to be more terrified. Let’s just get this out of the way: the movie is about a murder-mystery, and is a suspense thriller.

The above reason is a huge part of why I’m not sure I could judge the movie fairly, as I had expected something entirely different. I have read a few opinions that the marketing team did not do a very successful job in letting the audience know what kind of movie “Whiteout” is, and I would be inclined to agree. I have never read the graphic novel (though I am a bit curious now), so I am not sure how it compares.

Whiteout is very slow and deliberate in its scenes, most of which shows the magnificent scenery of the snowcapped mountains and the “whiteout” effect that occurs when a heavy blizzard is so stormy that it is impossible to make out features or details. The very few scenes that Tom Skerritt (Brothers & Sisters), who plays the resident doctor, shared with Kate were some of the best in the film, especially at the end. However, the scenes that really stole the movie were the majestic camera sweeps of what the filmmakers have set up as Antarctica (really, it’s Canada) and the two, rather unique scenes in which Carrie fights with her opponent.

For what it was, I would say the movie was okay, but not great. Not a wide range of acting was required, which resulted in very one-note performances. The plot was also very simple, despite the twist, one that I had foreseen earlier in the movie, but hoped it was not true. The scenery, the cinematography however, is just breathtaking. The film successfully builds suspense and tension, as Carrie slowly uncovers more evidence and is placed in unexpected circumstances. As a sucker for “whodunnit” type entertainment, I thought they did well in allowing the audiences to try and figure out for themselves who was the murderer, but what they tried as character development, failed. I’d probably wait for the rental for this one to make up your mind.

2.5 blizzards / 5 blizzards, wait for the rental


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