Pros: Entertaining thriller with good cast.
Cons: Shaky camera. Pacing issues. Few plot issues.
When I first saw the previews for Whiteout, I thought aspects of it looked interesting, but I wasn't sure about seeing the movie. After reading some about the movie, I decided to give it a chance.
In 1957, something goes wrong aboard a Russian plane, causing it to crash somewhere in Antarctica.
In the present day, U.S. marshal Carrie Stetko is stationed at a research facility in Antarctica and she is the only member of law enforcement at the facility. She takes care of law enforcement issues for other research facilities in the area. A huge storm is coming, so the change of staff has started a few days early to make sure it is done before the facility is cut off for the six months of winter. Carrie has been there for a few years and is ready to leave.
One of the pilots spots something that he thinks might be a dead body so Carrie sets out with Dr. John Fury to investigate just three days before the last flight out is due to leave. At first it seems like an accident has happened, but it doesn't take long for Carrie to decide that a murder has happened. Her investigation takes her to other research facilities where she finds another dead body and is attacked. Robert Pryce, a man working for the UN turns up and becomes involved in the situation. Carrie sets out to figure out what is going on before the last plane leaves before the winter.
Whiteout is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber that was published as a limited series in four issues in 1998. A sequel called Whiteout: Melt was published in 2000. I have read that there are plans for another sequel, but I don't think it is out yet. I haven't read the graphic novel, so I don't know what would have been changed for the movie. From the little bit that I've read about the graphic novel, it seems like the main story is mostly the same, though I could be wrong about that.
The first few minutes of Whiteout show what happened with the Russian plane in 1957 and why it crashed. There are subtitles during those moments, but they don't continue throughout the movie. The majority of the movie takes place in the present day, though an actual date isn't provided. It takes a while, but the plane does end up having something to do with what is going on in that part of the movie. The pace is a little slower at times, especially while things are being set up, and that might bore some viewers. The pace does pick up during certain sequences, though I don't think it is ever really fast paced.
When I first saw previews for Whiteout, the things shown made it seem like the movie was going to be more of a horror movie. I read a few things about the movie that say it is more of a mystery/thriller, so I decided to give the movie a chance. I agree that is a mystery/thriller and not a horror movie. There is a killer running around in a few scenes that seems crazed and things are set in a very isolate area, but that doesn't make the movie a horror movie in my opinion. The previews even seem to hint that something bizarre or supernatural is going on, which also isn't the case. People expecting more of a horror movie will probably be disappointed with the movie.
There is action in a few scenes of Whiteout, including a few confrontations outside during storms. Those scenes do add a few moments of intensity, though they don't last that long. During the various chases, shaky camera work turns up, making it very difficult to tell what is going on. Violence turns up in a couple of scenes that could be too graphic for some viewers. Some images shown are disturbing or just gross, like when Carrie finds the body. It is not in good condition and not pleasant to see. One scene involves a medical procedure that I could have done without. Nothing graphic is shown, but it is very clear what is happening and that was more than enough for me. The movie does deserve the R rating and it isn't something for children to see.
There is a decent amount of mystery to what is going on in Whiteout, though it could have been stronger. The whole situation with the plane from 1957 adds some mystery since it isn't clear what motivates the event that leads to the crash. Once the movie is in current times, more mystery is added by the body and Carrie's subsequent investigation. Early in the investigation, something is pointed out that I didn't think much about. Carrie doesn't give it much attention either, even after she starts piecing together things. Some scenes do have a decent amount of suspense, though the movie could have been more suspenseful overall. I do think the movie works as a decent thriller even with the issues it has.
All of Whiteout takes place in Antarctica, just days before winter is going to set in and isolate everything for six months. The temperature is given as fifty below zero at one point and it is clear that it isn't getting any warmer. The dangers of that kind of extreme cold are brought up, though it isn't fully dealt with properly. Characters will be wearing heavy coats, hats, and gloves when going outside, but they have nothing covering their faces, something that I know isn't accurate, especially once the wind picks up. If the characters had put on all the layers and protective clothing they would really need in those type of extreme cold temperatures, it would be impossible to tell who is who. Someone does end up with a cold related injury. The scenery does look pretty in a few scenes, but overall, it looks like a very harsh environment that I wouldn't want to go to.
Within a few minutes of first appearing in Whiteout, Carrie strips down to her barely there underwear while preparing for a shower. A few minutes are then devoted to the actual shower with strategically placed steam obscures certain parts of her body, something that will probably disappoint some viewers. It is clear that she is naked and a lot of skin is visible. Just before Carrie returns to her room and strips down, a group of men run naked outside in front of her, though nothing much is visible. Later in the movie a little more skin is shown once or twice. There aren't any sex scenes or any romance in the movie.
There really isn't a lot of development for any of the characters in Whiteout, though a few do receive more attention. Carrie has been at the research facility for a few years and is ready to leave. As the movie progresses, an event from Carrie's past comes up during a few flashbacks. The event is important and seems to be why she decided to take the post in Antarctica to begin with. She doesn't always make the smartest decisions, though she is determined to figure out what is going on. Kate Beckinsale does fine with the part. John Fury is the doctor at the facility. He has been there for several years and he and Carrie have a good friendship. He isn't around in as many scenes, so Tom Skerritt doesn't end up with as much to do.
Delfy is one of the pilots working at the facility. He goes with Carrie when she goes out to check the body and then carry out other parts of the investigation. He helps in a few situations, but overall he really doesn't do a lot. Columbus Short is fine in the part. Russell Haden is another one of the pilots. He acts a bit cocky, especially to Carrie, but he isn't around that much, so Alex O'Loughlin doesn't have much to do. Robert Pryce works for the UN. He turns up just in time to become involved in the investigation. Gabriel Macht is fine in the part.
Kate Beckinsale - Carrie Stetko
Alex O'Loughlin - Russell Haden
Gabriel Macht - Robert Pryce
Columbus Short - Delfy
Tom Skerritt - Dr. John Fury
Dominic Sena - Director
Whiteout has a few issues, but I think it works as a decent thriller overall. The movie isn't like it was depicted in the trailers, so some people may end up disappointed with it. Fans of Beckinsale may find something to enjoy about the movie.
I would have rated this movie three and a half stars. Since I don't have that option, I decided to round up to four.