Whiteout Recap

Jamie

Carrie Stetko is a US Marshall assigned to an Antarctic scientific base. She’s ready to retire after serving out her time in the remote outpost, but just before the base closes for the winter she is confronted by a murder. Soon everyone is a suspect and a storm is closing in. Can she solve the case and take down the bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Whiteout.

How?! Carrie Stetko is a US Marshall whose heart is just not in it since a tragic incident earlier in her career. She has isolated herself by taking an assignment in Antarctica, but with another dark winter (and inopportune major storm) on the horizon, she’s decided to retire. That is until a dead body (literally) falls out of the sky. Tracking down where this body came from she starts to piece together a crazy situation involving a remote research outpost and long missing Soviet diamonds. As she gets closer, with the help of a dashing UN security agent and a pilot, a killer starts after her trying to make sure the diamonds get on the last plane out of Antarctica and she doesn’t! She’s nearly stabbed, shot, and trapped in a plane buried in the snow, but this all only brings out the best in Carrie. It may be freezing outside, but suddenly she’s got the burning desire to solve crimes and take down the baddies. This all culminates in the capture and killing of one of the other pilots. But something doesn’t sit right when it turns out that that pilot unknowingly was trying to escape with a jar full of jellybeans instead of diamonds. Saboteur! There must be a co-conspirator. Look no further than Carrie’s own friend, Dr. Fury. He admits to the crime and decides to end his own life by walking into the storm rather than be arrested. Flash forward to where Carrie has rescinded her resignation and is ready for some new assignments. Am I smelling a sequel? (hint: I’m not). THE END.

Why?! There is a little juice to Carrie’s motivation (besides crushing crime and subduing criminals left and right). That’s because she lacks confidence and belief in herself ever since her partner betrayed her and she was forced to shoot him in the line of duty. So really she’s searching for herself and solving this crime is a way to prove to herself that she’s still got it. As for Dr. Fury, well he has a classic bad guy motivation. After years of low pay and a shit assignment in Antarctica he sees the diamonds as a way to finally get his in this unjust world. Unfortunately he didn’t account for the mega-sleuthing abilities of Carrie Stetko.

Who?! There really isn’t much to note for this so I will mostly just note my surprise that Gabriel Macht played a UN security agent in the film. Back in the 80’s and 90’s the UN showed up in a lot of action films as a global body of incredible power, often dictating exactly how the world is to respond to an international disaster. Which is funny. Case in point, Street Fighter where JCVD plays Guile, no longer in the Air Force but rather part of the U.N… OK, fine, he’s part of the A.N., but it’s the same thing. Get off my back.

What?! There is a lot of food talk in this film given that the people at the base can’t ever leave, so variety seems limited. I’m sure there are some interesting products throughout the film along those lines, but the only one I remember is the fact that when they crack open the case that’s supposed to contain the diamonds they just find a bunch of what are clearly Jelly Belly’s. They really should have had one of the characters pick one up, pop it in their mouth and then spit it out and say with a grimace “black licorice.” Would have really brought it home.

Where?! Antarctica, baby, with a little flashback to Miami. If we were to make a mapl.de.map for BMT films that truly embodied a location then I think this might beat out AvP. AvP being set in Antarctica is just some weird shit. This, though, is ‘Artica (as the kids call it) through and through. In fact… this probably should have been called Antarctica and gotten the full A+. Missed opportunity. A.When?! Interesting exact date on this guy. Kate Beckinsale hacks into the mainframe and checks some flight logs for the day she thinks the original body would have been dumped (which have been *gasp* erased). The day in question? Right around Valentine’s Day! Is this a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert? Seems so. Although a previous scene suggests that it might be early March (which kinda makes more sense for when the researchers would have to leave the base for the winter) so methinks that not everyone was on the same page for this one. B.

I swear when I started this film my mind began to chant “It’s not that bad” in hot anticipation. I was digging the vibe and I was ready for them to bring it home in a freezing hot climax that would knock the socks off of BMT. Unfortunately they couldn’t do it and it fell apart in the face of a ludicrously predictable ending. I was ready to forgive the consistently terrible acting as long as it could land the finale. Alas, it was not to be. That stumble alone kinda took it right into nomansland when it comes to BMT. It’s good enough to imagine throwing on the TV, but bad enough that I would never recommend it to someone. And not really BMT in any way (unless people find it funny to know who the killer is about 1/6th of the way through a film). As for Black Eagle, I was really surprised at how competent the otherwise poorly regarded martial arts film was. Usually those types of films can end up quite boring when they fall flat. And the IMDb score certainly made me think that it would. But I really didn’t mind watching it at all. Add in a genuinely interesting (and dare I say good?) bad guy role for Jean Claude Van Damme and I think I actually would recommend the film to people. JCVD should have been a bad guy more often. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When you want those thrillz, but you also need those chillz, but like, in a cooooool Antarctica way, who you gonna call? That’s right, super cool (literally) U.S. Marshal Kate Beckinsale. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – As a rare film set in Antarctica this was always on our radar. Otherwise I literally knew nothing about it going in which was fun. I could have guessed it was about thrills and chills as a murderer strikes in Antarctica, but I couldn’t have named anything about it. As a matter of fact I was pretty shocked to learn they were legit at the actual South Pole! That’s fun. What were my expectations? Thrillz. In reality my expectations were that it was going to be a generic thriller. It turns out that screenwriters exhausted all possibilities for thrillers by 2002 … that’s a joke, but sometimes it feels that way.

The Good – The setting does, in fact, work wonders for the film. Ends up being super spooky, and allows for real danger in the simple act of investigation. That is something taken for granted in a normal crime thriller, the hero who has enough brains and gumption to solve the case. Here, you have to have brains, gumption, and a healthy dose of self-preservation. That’s pretty cool. Spoilies, but it is also rather excellent that they took the risk to have the protagonist lose two of her fingers to frostbite in the film. It left a solid sense of the consequences hanging over the murders that Beckinsale gets saddled with on her last day at the South Pole (she’s about to retire! Amazing that that trope is actually used here). Best Bit – Antarctica setting.

The Bad – This film is an incredibly generic thriller. If not for that I think I might have gone with it being a true It’s-Not-That-Bad BMT film. A psychologically broken woman about to quit the force catches one last case, the masked murderer hunts her in an effort to hide his crimes, it turns out a good friend was involved the whole time. Yeah, that might be the storyline in about a dozen major films, and countless cheesy police procedurals by 2004. It completely sinks the film since understandably the entire thing becomes hopelessly predictable. There are only ever two possible suspects! At least some of this is likely because it is based on a graphic novel, but that isn’t really an excuse. Fatal Flaw – Generic.

The BMT – I think the only real record this will have in the history of BMT is that it is set in Antarctica. But to be honest, if this ended up being on randomly when I was chilling with some friends on a lazy Saturday afternoon or something? Yeah, maybe I leave it on? It is pretty fun in the end, kind of like the first Alex Cross film (Kiss the Girls), the performances and setting is just good enough to be really fun I think. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly I suppose, yes. It was as generic as one would have expected. Which is too bad because it isn’t nearly as bad as one might think, a normal generic thriller.

Roast-radamus – Definitely a strong Product Placement (What?) with the cold weather gear being used. In particular there are plenty of Northface all over this film. Huuuuuuuge Setting as a Character (Where?) for Antarctica. In some ways you could argue the real murderer was Mother Nature and the continent of Antarctica … one could argue that. Great Super Secret Holiday Film (When?) for Valentine’s Day! There is a shot where it pretty clearly indicates that it is either February 14th or 15th in 2007 (if the days are to be believed). Had to be intentional. Solid MacGuffin (Why?) in that there is a whole preamble set during the Cold War concerning a mysterious downed Russian airplane, which ultimately results in a bounty of diamonds that kicks off the murders. And finally a very bad Worst Twist (How?) for the “reveal” that the murderer’s accomplice is none other (and inevitably) Beckinsale’s doctor friend played by Tom Skerritt. That is an incredible set of superlatives, and I think it has an okay shot at the Good award as well in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Interesting this is very much not the worst film set in Antarctica as I would say Alien vs. Predator takes that crown … while looking that up it has occurred to be that Alien vs. Predator also came out in 2004. That’s pretty weird. Antarctica ended up having a major thriller and horror film set there in 2004. I wonder if that was the moment that people realized they could do an entire film in CGI for the backgrounds, and thus setting a film in Antarctica became feasible. Also weird because both were based on graphic novels, although it seems like the Alien vs. Predator comics weren’t set in Antarctica. Anyways, not much cred, just an amazing coincidence.

Bring a Friend Analysis – In a white/black motif, we watched Black Eagle alongside Whiteout this week. One of the first Van Damme films. So early in his career he was still playing the bad guy (Bloodsport was released about a month prior to this which obviously made him into a leading man). I’m genuinely shocked at the reception for this film. It isn’t good by any measure, but it has like a 3.8 on IMDb which is incredibly low. I thought Van Damme was actually really good in the film. And the storyline, in real James Bond spy convolution, is complicated, and yet this terrible direct-to-video film manages to keep the events relatively coherent. The cons for the film are basically that Shō Kosugi has a lot of trouble with English. It could have used a dub I think. I don’t think it is a good film, but I think for a martial arts spy film … it’s better than Gymkata right?! So I don’t really get the rating. The film is a bit too boring to recommend beyond for those looking to complete Van Damme’s filmography. C+, a bit too boring, but is a fine martial arts spy film I think.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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