STARRING Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short DIRECTED BY Dominic Sena SCREENPLAY Jon & Erich Hoeber
Chad & Carey Hayes
Greg Rucka (Graphic Novel) MPAA RATING Rated R RUNNING TIME 96 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY Warner Brothers
Do you remember how I proclaimed in my commentary "10 Fall Films That Are Really Gonna' Suck" that Kate Beckinsale's new flick "Whiteout" shouldn't be confused with what would likely be a vastly superior film, "White Out," directed by Dave Grelck.
I nailed it again.
With only a couple thousand bucks, Grelck managed to create a "White Out" that is intelligent, involving, entertaining, well acted and, considering the film's paltry budget, technically sound.
Millions of dollars, the backing of Warner Brothers and the presence of Kate Beckinsale can't salvage "Whiteout" from being a cinematically blinding, stupidly written, horrifically directed piece of Hollywood crap that only begs the question "Can't Kate Beckinsale read?"
Seriously. Beckinsale is a beautiful, talented actress who keeps finding her way to sub-par, unimaginative and unfathomably bad films in which every strength she has as an actress is squelched under the weight of sub-moronic dialogue and awful staging.
I suppose director Dominic Sena deserves a little credit. It does take a certain talent to make Kate Beckinsale look bad and, boy, does Beckinsale come off badly in "Whiteout."
Why am I so ruthlessly ticked off about this bottom of the heap action flick? There's no denying it's similarity in title to Grelck's superior film has something to do with it. While talented directors like Grelck struggle to survive outside Hollywood on sporadic theatrical showings, festival appearances and occasional competitions, hack directors like Sena manage to find work again and again despite never having created a single film worth watching.
Yes, it ticks me off.
Fortunately, Grelck's "White Out" did find a distribution deal and will be out on DVD on RSquared Films December 1st, but the gap in filmmaking opportunities is still rather irritating, at least for this critic who would rather see a well made $2,000 film over a multi-million dollar trash heap any day of the week.
Okay, I'm done ranting now.
Back to Beckinsale's "Whiteout."
Set in Antarctica under the premise of this vast wasteland having experienced its first ever murder, "Whiteout" features the land's only law enforcement (Beckinsale), though she seems to resemble Don Knotts' Barney Fife in her inability to utilize her firearm even in dangerous situations.
Once this fresh corpse reveals itself, a longer existing mystery begins to unfold involving laughably stupid Russians who had crashed into Antarctica years earlier and, well, the story begins to unfold with Tom Skerritt even making an appearance as an amiable physician preaching the horrors of Antarctica life.
Funny stuff. Really.
The problem is that not even a quartet of screenwriters, Jon & Erich Hoeber and Chad & Carey Hayes, can manage to build a sense of the isolation, paranoia and hyped anxiety that would have to exist in living in a land of such barren humanity and life. It doesn't help that Sena, who also directed such awful flicks as "Swordfish" and the "Gone in 60 Seconds" remake, embodies "Whiteout" with no sense of excitement, energy or, for that matter, nothing resembling a genuine human emotion or a realistically staged scene.
There's no denying that Beckinsale tries to make something happen here, and it's nearly always impossible to fault Skerritt's work playing another variation on the type of character he always plays so well. Yet, with poorly constructed dialogue and a nonsensical plot, how much can an actor really be expected to do?
Chris Soos' cinematography does manage to make the vast landscape appear appropriately all-encompassing and overwhelming, while John Frizzell's original score manages to build a heightened sense of anxiety even when Sena's direction and the script betrays him.
I'd like to call "Whiteout" a disappointment. It's not. As expected, "Whiteout" IS a Fall film that really sucks.