Correction Fluid: The Movie. Given all this white out, wonders Kimberly Gadette, shouldn't the film be error free?
Talk about your ice-ing on the cake: faced with the prospect of a glacially slow action "chiller" on their frostbitten mitts, the filmmakers addressed concerns about raw skin exposure in the South Pole from a different angle. Presenting an up-shot of Kate Beckinsale's butt cheeks.
Yep. We meet Beckinsale's Carrie, a do-gooder marshal who's stuck in Antarctica, as she strips from her heaviest outerwear to her lightest underwear. Followed by the shot of the above-referenced cheeks, segueing into her immersion into a steamy shower, the camera playing peek-a-boo with vague glimpses of an obviously beautiful bod. Suddenly, platonic older friend Doc (Tom Skerritt) strolls into her room to greet her. She doesn't say, "Yo, Doc, next time how about knocking?" She's dripping wet, a bathrobe quickly wrapped around her, yet there's no acknowledgement that maybe the intrusive Doc might want to play doctor with someone closer to his own age.
If this film had been named Whiteout: the Panties, then maybe it would fly. Well, not the panties, they shouldn't fly, though that wouldn’t be surprising coming from producer/schlockmeister Joel Silver, the same Joel Silver who is rumored to have said that women characters in action films should be "naked or dead." He is also one of Tom Cruise's inspirations for his foul-mouthed producer character in Tropic Thunder. Let's face it (well, not the tush, not literally): the only way to keep male butt cheeks in the seats is to seduce them with Beckinsale's.
Steamy as that scene may be, and though the film is sodden with multiple forms of water, there will be no more heated vapor as regards to Kate. Instead, we get an irritated Nancy Drew with a flashlight, stomping about in mukluks as if she just heard the naked/dead women quote from Joel Silver himself.
And stomp she does, through a plot with as much clarity as an ice storm at midnight. After a 1957 shoot-‘em-up on board a Russian aircraft, resulting in a beautifully photographed crash in the mountainous snow drifts of the South Pole, followed by Beckinsale's shower, we're done. The remaining 90 minutes is far from a white-knuckled Whiteout. Instead, it trudges on about an approaching storm of shocking magnitude (we see some swirling ice), mutilated bodies, Russian contraband, and a masked marauder wielding an ice ax. As well as frequent flashbacks to an earlier episode from our heroine's past that frankly wouldn't pass muster on CSI: Vanilla.
It's this weak back story that's forced Carrie to reconsider a career in law enforcement, banishing herself to no-man's land in Antarctica for two years where nothing happens other than an occasional case of broken wind. It turns out her exile was a wise move since (as written and directed) Carrie is a terrible cop. Even in the direst of situations, she never asks for help, she rarely carries a weapon (if she does, it's safely bundled away in the deepest folds of her parka), and she never tells her colleagues where she's going. After her hand is severely hurt, that fact is simply forgotten; we see the actress engaging in the physical aspects of the following scenes without so much as a mild flinch.
Both Beckinsale and co-star Gabriel Macht suffer from a special kind of whiteout: their personalities are utterly devoid of delineation. As is the final fight scene – with the camera a-flurry with quick cuts, we find it nearly impossible to determine who's who, and what's what. Why not just throw up a white bed sheet, add in a screaming soundtrack and be done with it?
Even decent turns proffered by Columbus Short's reflective pilot and the always-solid Tom Skerritt can't rescue this frozen wasteland of a film.
On paper, a plot about blinding storms, severe cabin fever, outlaw territories and a lady cop on the run from her own life, all etched within the grandeur of the South Pole must have looked great. I can't wait to see it.
In the meantime, if this watered-down version is on your list: white it out.
Rating on a scale of 5 snowballs in hell: 1.5
Release date: US: 11 September 2009; UK: 11 September 2009
Directed by: Dominic Sena
Screenplay by: Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber and Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes
Based on the graphic novel by: Greg Rucka
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin, Shawn Doyle
Rating: US = R; UK = 15
Running time: 101 minutes