Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Whiteout



WHITEOUT (2009)

Directed by: Dominic Sena
Screenplay: Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber and Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht & Tom Skerritt

Another big budget thriller unfairly dumped, hated on and ripped apart by the critical establishment, Whiteout may not be revolutionary in, well, any terms, predictable and hated by anyone who has the even the slightest aversion to Hollywood product (which is pretty much everyone these days), but it actually isn’t that bad.



Certainly it lacks any real emotional punch, all the characters just a little too “cool” and subdued to make them feel much more than cardboard cut outs. That’s a little unfair, as Beckinsale actually does quite well as the slightly melancholic heroine, the regulation Hollywood back-story of her accidentally killing someone on the job (geez, never seen that one before!), bringing a slight damaged quality to her Carrie Setko: a US Marshal Stationed at a remote post in Antarctica. But don’t worry; we also get many Hollywood regulation shots of her in her knickers and showering. While the premise and setting are novel and visually stylish, the characters needed more oomph, meaning that the quieter and talkier scenes lack bite and tend to drag the film into a lethargic slog.

Luckily the film has a Hollywood budget and director at the helm meaning the film looks fantastic in its snowy setting and the action set-pieces are staged with verve. Sure this may mean style over substance but nothing wrong with that sometimes and the film is still entertaining on its own popcorn terms. Based on Greg Rucka and Steve Leiber’s graphic novel of the same name, Whiteout entertains with the cool premise about the hunt for a serial killer in the most remote place on earth: Antarctica. It’s an interesting idea and set-up but let down a little by the fact it’s fairly obvious who is the culprit from the get go. Still, the dark, icy visual style more than makes up for this and director Dominic Sena sure knows how to stage a set-piece: which occur at frequent enough intervals.



Sena creates tension well, getting the most from a masked, ice pick wielding maniac chasing our heroine through the snowy confines of a remote outpost. The films opens with a ludicrous (but hey, ludicrous can be enjoyable too!) action scene featuring a gun fight on a plane which eventually crashes into the snowy plains. Over the top it may be but it’s staged with intensity and excitement. Likewise, the final confrontation set during the big blizzard is also staged superbly, Sena again squeezing out tension and suspense rather than going for CGI overkill.

Sure, it’s a pretty lightweight affair but a decent enough action thriller that for the most part is well made and offers up a fair amount of Hollywood produced thrills. Once again, not as bad as you may have heard.

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