Review in a Hurry: The coldest place on the planet just got its first homicide, and Kate Beckinsale's on the scene as a U.S. Marshall—with serious issues. But like the Antarctic setting, this overly confusing expedition leaves us cold.
The Bigger Picture: Beckinsale gets all bundled up (mostly) to play Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshall who's volunteered to be stationed at the most isolated area on the planet: Antarctica. But now a man has been murdered and Stetko only has a few days to find the killer or else she and her crew (Tom Skeritt, Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short) will be stuck to suffer the blinding storm approaching.
Although the murder case isn't that original, or layered, the script by Chad & Carey Hayes (based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka) keeps using flashbacks to over-explain everything. Stetko might have her reasons for seeking a snowbound residence, but why does it have to unfold like some frosty soap opera? At one point, a flashback is used to highlight a scene we just experienced...ten minutes earlier.
Weird since this really isn't that complicated of a story. Without spoiling the plot, those enticed by the cool trailer that made Whiteout look like The Thing or 30 Days of Night will be left out in the cold by a monsterless tale. There is a twist of sorts, but unlike the whiteout that obscures Beckinsale's vision, you'll see this one from a mile a way.
On the positive end, the below-freezing temperatures are chilling. Every time Stetko ventures outside, she needs to tether herself to a rope to prevent getting lost. And a cup of coffee instantly turning to a popsicle coffee is nice way of reminding viewers things can get deadly fast.
But there are other scenes that strain the freezer-burn credibility. Early on, Beckinsale takes off her arctic attire and now only in her underwear the camera just kinda sits there as she gets ready to take a shower. Come. On.
Keep an eye out, thought, for moment about halfway through that shows what Whiteout could have been. Stetko gets trapped in wreckage 20 feetbelow the icy surface and suddenly, the possibility of freezing to death feels real. But then director Dominic Sena (Swordfish) takes us out of the moment with more flashbacks, and like keeping a refrigerator door open, he lets out all the fear and suspense.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Despite the flaws, this is still a Kate Beckinsale vehicle. She looks great—there is that ridiculous underwear scene—and she remains an actress that can warm our cold hearts.
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