Saturday, November 25, 2017

Whiteout



**½

Why can't we just give average movies average ratings and consider them okay? Is it really necessary that we paint an alright film as a squishy tomato that seems rested alongside the worst films ever made? Whiteout (2009) is far from awful. It is ordinary and run-of-the-mill. It is plotting done uninspired. All of this constitutes a sigh of frustration perhaps. Maybe it feels like a lost opportunity. But you could come up with worse principle actors to spend time with than Kate Beckinsale and Tom Skerritt. Yes, the setting deserved a better film. It cops out to murder on the wintry, icy environs of Antarctica due to greed thanks to a fallen plane crash landed with precious cargo. So it isn't a plot that really meets the Agatha Christie standards. I honestly think if those so set against this went back and watched it a second time, the critique so harshly dealt towards Whiteout might be lighted a bit. It has good bits and pieces. The cannisters potentially tied to nuclear weaponry found on a Russian plane buried under heavy snow since 1957 have been taken by a killer who can fly a plane. That killer pursues Kate's Carrie Stetko, US Marshal, in full gear wielding a frenetic ice ax causing her to grab a wheel chilled at -65. The fingers later must come of by Skerritt's Doc John Fury.

Yes, I'm a sucker for a hot-shower sequence where Kate gradually disrobes all her outfit and gear after patrol later to get a steamy once-over. It is carefully shot to conceal her naked bits but Kate still knows how to work that shower for all its worth. A shower fetishest like me appreciates it. It has no real purpose, but Kate doesn't seem to mind. With a petite little body like that, Kate is willing to rock it.

The opening shoot out on the plane kicks it off with a bang and the ice ax chase with a killer suited up in goggles just narrowly missing Kate are good highlights. As is UN investigator, Gabriel Macht's Robert Pryce ingenuity to help his, Carrie's, and pilot Columbus Short's (as Delfy) escape from the Russian plane when the killer floods them with snowfall.
 

The obvious is that we know all too well that Stetko won’t make that plane trip out of the Antarctic base in time before the whiteout because Plotting 101 wouldn’t dare allow it, so Short injured by someone needing him to delay her and Pryce leaving was necessary.












Alex O’Loughlin doesn’t have a meaty part but his pilot serves as a stealthy, motivated villain, giving Carrie and Pryce all kinds of trouble when the whiteout storm really hits the main base, particularly when ropes needed to use as a guide for travel as the raging winds (and snow carried in the winds) are potentially endangered. While the twist on who was among the party finding the Russian plane, to hide the real cargo, along with O’Loughlin’s Haden, is never a really big surprise, the knot itself (a long scar on the frozen body of a geologist found on the ice, later revealed to have been thrown from a plane) was kind of clever, especially in how it is linked to amputated fingers. I thought the breathtaking Quebec locations subbing for Antarctica were good natural eye candy and, for the most part, the special effects for the winter storm fit the bill. Overall, though, there is a clear The Thing (1982) vibe with the isolated base(s), frozen murdered bodies (my favorite effects of the film, actually, are the frozen corpses of badly damaged men), characters in their suits and goggles, and less-than-hospitable conditions. Is it enough to circumvent a rather mediocre story? I wasn’t all that disappointed this time around, because I guess I wasn’t expecting anything after seeing it twice before. But there has been a few years since I rented it on DVD, so catching it on Cinemax was perhaps good timing. Watching this after a rather exhausting but satisfying Thanksgiving weekend where the family spent their time at three different lunches with relatives, I think Whiteout was actually not that bad of a November, lazy late Saturday afternoon escapism. I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse than this, considering it is treated as if it were “one of the worst films of 2009.” Hogwash.

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