Sunday, 7 February 2010

No.162 : Whiteout

It’s kind of hard to motivate yourself to watch a film like ‘Whiteout’ in the midst of the coldest winter in memory but alas ‘Couples Retreat’ doesn’t start with a ‘W’.

The film had the dreaded ‘DVD Premiere’ tag which seems strange as it’s a perfectly decent thriller with high production values. Maybe it couldn’t find a spot at the multi plexes due to the dominance of ‘St Trinians 2 : The legend of Fritton’s Gold’.

The film opens in 1957 with a Russian plane struggling through a winter’s storm to an unknown destination. The pilot and co-pilot chat in subtitles and it’s clear that a plan is afoot. The co-pilot goes into the cargo hold and plies his passengers with vodka before trying to shoot them all. The plan is pretty poor, as is that of the passengers who start machine gunning everything including the pilot. Luckily the plane manages to land itself leaving the secret cargo intact and stuck in the ice of the South Pole.

As you’d expect things soon melt into the present day where we meet US marshal Carrie (Kate Beckinsale) who suffers from sepia flashback fever. She does her best to warm things up by stripping off for a shower but that’s pretty much your lot as it’s all mittens and no muff from here on in.

The base is closing down for the winter with the bad weather set to descend in 72 hours. It’s poor timing therefore that lets the pilot with the best eyesight in history spot a body on a remote glacier. Our able copper is soon on her way helped by Tom Skerritt’s crusty doctor and a mysterious man from the UN who is keen to avoid Antarctica’s first murder getting out of hand.

After some implausible deductions our heroine is soon checking out a remote Russian base only to be attacked by a nutter with an ice axe. She manages to get away with the loss of only a few digits and soon she’s found the source of all the trouble - it’s that downed Ruskie plane - knew it was there for a reason.

With the bodies stacking up and the weather closing in can Kate solve the mystery of the Black Tragic Box?

This is a perfectly decent thriller that looks good and has some exciting set pieces. That said I fear it’s memory will be lost like snow off a dyke. It is well made and well acted it’s just nothing that special or different.

The settings are great and the weather is always a threat. When Kate is having an ice axe fight in the snow you wouldn’t guess that it’s the door handle that will score the most points. The sense of isolation is also well worked as is the lack of help when the shit inevitably hits the fan.

Kate Beckinsale does quite will with a thinly drawn character who is transparent from the off. She’s obviously on this remote detail due to some incident in the past and we get frequent flashback clues to the deadly event. The problem is that you’ll guess the whole story from the first flashback so when you finally get the big reveal towards the end it’s a total anti climax.

The mystery element is OK although the various schemes to secure the illicit cargo seem unnecessarily complicated - old Tom Skerritt could of achieved the same aim with a well zipped up soap bag! The big fight in the blizzard towards the end was poorly executed however as you has three people in parkas and goggles scrapping in a snow storm - as you’d guess it was kinda hard to make out what was happening!

All in all ‘Whiteout’ was a decent thriller and had enough going on in it’s 100 minutes to keep me interested. Just a pity that the thrills and chills were so widely spaced that they may be digging for 50 years to unearth it once it’s done the rounds.

Best Bit : Kate Gets Fingered
‘W’ Rating : 14/23