Whiteout has been sitting on the shelf for some time now, as if in winter storage. Perhaps during that time it grew lethargic and atrophied. Finally released, it resembles a murder mystery with some action and suspense thrown in, but none of these elements achieves its desired effect. The mystery is not mysterious, the action is not exciting, and the suspense is more like boredom. Based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka, the movie takes place at a scientific research facility in Antarctica (a screen title elaborates on just where and what Antarctica is, in case you’ve never heard of it). U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale) is stationed there, recovering from flashbacks to her violent past.
Winter is coming, and so is a huge storm, and so the facility’s entire populace prepares to leave, lest it get stuck there for six months. But first Stetko must investigate a dead body inexplicably lying in the middle of nowhere; it turns out a masked killer is on the loose, and it all has something to do with a Russian plane that crashed 50 years earlier. The film’s four screenwriters and director Dominic Sena simultaneously provide too many and not enough clues, as the suspects are narrowed down to the three people who actually appear onscreen for more than 30 seconds: pilot Delfy (Columbus Short), Doc Fury (Skerritt) and a shifty, suspicious U.N. guy who has come in to help (Macht).
Then there are the action sequences, which are among the year’s worst, Transformers 2 included. In one, there are three figures, including one woman and one bad guy. All three are wearing identical goggles, coats and hoods, in a blinding snowstorm. Sena shakes the camera and cuts all over the place, as the three anonymous figures attack and evade one another. Even though all three are attached to a rope and the space is all mapped out, Sena turns it into mashed potatoes, and it’s an unwatchable mess. As for suspense, well, the snow is coming, and when the screen turns white ... it has arrived. The result is sort of like a blank wall, coupled with the gnawing sensation of wasted time.