‘Beckinsale on Ice’ in ‘Whiteout’ - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

‘Beckinsale on Ice’ in ‘Whiteout’

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Posted: Friday, September 11, 2009 11:50 am | Updated: 2:26 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Review: It’s Kate Beckinsale on Ice.

In the new cold-blooded suspense flick “Whiteout,” the actress plays Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshall posted at a remote base in Antarctica. Yes, the movies have returned to our southernmost continent: “Whiteout” follows in the webbed footsteps of “March of the Penguins” and Werner Herzog, who traveled there for last year’s “Encounters at the End of the World.”

It’s Kate Beckinsale on Ice.

In the new cold-blooded suspense flick “Whiteout,” the actress plays Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshall posted at a remote base in Antarctica. Yes, the movies have returned to our southernmost continent: “Whiteout” follows in the webbed footsteps of “March of the Penguins” and Werner Herzog, who traveled there for last year’s “Encounters at the End of the World.”

This time, there’s nary a penguin in sight (though even amid all that cold, the movie still finds a way to squeeze in a steamy, gratuitous shower scene).

Laughably, a subtitle informs the audience early on with that Antarctica is “the coldest, most isolated land mass.” Never mind that the film was actually shot in Canada.

Soon enough, Antarctica has — as one character proclaims — its first murder, which is followed by another, setting off some jurisdictional confusion. Somehow, the United Nations gets involved, immediately dispatching an investigator (Gabriel Macht).

Stetko and her friend, Doc (Tom Skerritt), are eager to end their stay in Antarctica, but the explosion of violence comes just as winter is about to set in, meaning the last planes are about to leave.

The murders — one victim is found in the middle of nowhere, frozen to the ice — also set off flashbacks for Setko. As a drug investigator in Miami, she was betrayed by her partner and nearly killed. This has, understandably enough, given her some trust issues.

The root of the murders has to do with loot from a newly discovered Soviet plane that crashed in 1957 in the middle of the Cold War. (Presumably, the plane’s pilots had taken that term literally.)

There’s much that’s unbelievable about “Whiteout,” but nothing more so than the idea that someone can fight in minus-65 degree cold without anything to cover the face. Also, Stetko’s parka looks more fashionable than functional.

But despite such flaws, “Whiteout” succeeds as a half-brained but intriguing whodunit. It’s not a fraction of “Fargo,” but its solid-enough performances and cool mood give it a noirish pulse.

The story’s thin cliches come from a graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. Director Dominic Sena (“Swordfish”) keeps the style from being too flashy and cinematographer Chris Soos has fun with the dark, wintery landscapes and flashlight beams.

The film benefits from the novelty of its setting — the eery emptiness and isolated science labs that can be reached only by plane. Basic movement is difficult — especially so when an ice pick-wielding lunatic is chasing you.

Beckinsale has shown flashes in films like “The Last Days of Disco,” “Laurel Canyon” and “Snow Angels,” but her blockbuster efforts such as “Underworld” and “Whiteout” feel like desperate grabs for above-the-line stardom.

Surely by now, she’s earned the right to avoid unnecessary shower scenes.

But, baby, it’s cold outside.

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