Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Tom Skerritt, Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short, Alex O’Laughlin, Shawn Doyle
Directed by Dominic Sena
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Whiteout is the absolute worst remake of The Thing I’ve ever seen. They didn’t even bother to include a thing in it. Sure, we get scientists at an Antarctic outpost discovering the deaths of everyone at another research outpost, leading to a killer getting loose at their station, but what’s killing them is just some dude in a coat that looks like Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe dressed up as the slasher from the first Urban Legend flick. The UFO has been replaced by a long lost Cold War era Russian transport plane buried beneath the snow, but instead of discovering an alien creature aboard that wrecked vessel, what is found on board just causes several characters to go all Treasure of the Subzero Madre on each other. Worst Thing remake ever!
I kid, but previews tried to play up Whiteout as a horror movie along the lines of The Thing when in actuality it’s more akin to a particularly long, uninteresting episode of “CSI: Antarctica”. Primarily a whodunit set against the backdrop of endless ice and snow, the biggest mystery is how I managed to stay awake. One hundred tedious minutes of investigation and running from a guy in a winter coat with a pickaxe just so it could all lead to a frostbitten Point Break rip-off climax. Given how it’s a talky, boring murder investigation movie set against the backdrop of inordinate amounts of frozen terrain, Whiteout would make a perfect companion piece to The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Whiteout is based on a rather well-received graphic novel from a decade ago I have never read and after seeing this movie have no plans to ever do so. I am left to assume that what made the graphic novel worthwhile got lost in translation to the screen. Not surprising considering four screenwriters are credited. The dialogue is already written and the very look of the potential film version is already storyboarded for you; why did it require four different screenwriters to adapt it?
Kate Beckinsale stars as a pouty US Marshall sent to an Antarctic outpost because … Beats me. They claim there’s never any crime down there so why they need a federal marshall on duty is beyond me. The people at this remote research facility tend to behave like a college fraternity throwing Hawaiian-themed keggers every 48 hours so maybe she has just been sent in to chaperone.
Her character is a gun-shy ninny haunted by a series of pointless flashbacks shot with that same annoying gold tinted filter that made The Crow: City of Angels the mega hit it was. She doesn’t trust her judgment because her ex-partner tried to set her up to be killed and she didn’t see it coming. Given what’s to come, it appears her character’s story arc is that she goes from wanting to quit her job because she misread someone she trusted that almost led to her being murdered to wanting to keep her job after again misreading someone she trusted that also nearly led to her being murdered. Four screenwriters, eh?
When the killer is tied up and his mask finally comes off, the Scooby Doo nature of the reveal left me greatly disappointed it did not turn out to be old man Smithers, owner of the haunted Antarctic amusement park. When the killer is revealed, I suspect most people will be like me and react with “Oh! It’s that guy.” Long pause. “Who the hell is that guy?”
But you just know that guy cannot be the only killer because we really don’t know who the hell that guy is and Tom Skerritt is still alive. One of the basic tenets of cinema is that if you have a murder thriller like this co-starring Tom Skerritt and he is not killed prior to the full revelation of the killer’s identity, Tom Skerritt must be either the killer or in cahoots with the killer. It really is one of the basic laws of modern cinema. The Skerritt Murder Principle; look it up. I believe Syd Field wrote a whole book on it.
The film’s title refers to a severe snowstorm with 100-mile-per-hour winds that can kick up so much snow you can’t even see six inches in front of your face. Director Dominic Sena (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Swordfish) recreates blinding whiteout conditions for a third act action sequence involving three characters all clad in identical hooded winter coats. Try to imagine how watching such an action sequence might prove problematic to the viewer.
1 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5