Synopsis: A US Marshall in Antarctica has only three days to solve a murder.
Release Date: September 11, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Thriller, Drama
This just may be one of those movies you desperately try to like but cannot seem to pinpoint why you can’t. It starts out strong and you are intrigued by the murder mystery; then it loses you about halfway through. Much of this is not due to the main storyline but the flashback sequences. They feel irrelevant and out of place. Instead of adding to the story at large they take away from it causing the momentum of the film as a whole to be lost. It grabs you now and again towards the end, and there is one action scene in the final act you will be on the edge of your seat for but that is about it. As the mystery unfolds the moment of climax you have been anticipating falls short of all expectations. You are disappointed at its generic and downright lame revelations. For all the ways it is creative in its other elements, the twist we all love and expect holds little if anything to get excited about, or feel fulfilled.
The title of the film stems from a common occurrence in Antarctic storms. In a whiteout you are lucky to be able to see six inches in front of your face. When the whiteout hits in this movie your eyes will strain to be able to see anything on the screen, and it is impressive. The snow and ice fills the screen in a whirlwind creating a world that is frightening and thrilling. You become part of the storm, with the other characters, and forced to endure what they are enduring – almost total blindness.
Given the opportunity to use Antarctica as a backdrop for a film is a rarity. The cinematographer, Christopher Soos, uses it to the fullest advantage. Catching the light perfectly there are an array of extreme ‘eye in the sky’ shots that showcase both the vast emptiness of the seemingly endless ice while at the same time portraying its pristine beauty. The small formations the ice forms, be them ripples or peaks, are magnificent as the sun reflects upon them. The landscape is a character in this film, both welcoming and deadly to those who inhabit it, and through the camera lens we are given the opportunity to bask in its oh so powerful existence.
From a wholly different perspective is the way in which interiors are shot. Using long tracking shots, from either behind or in front of characters, gives the viewer the impression that the space is actually larger than one expects from its exterior. It is essentially small, confined, and somewhere one cannot escape from given that going outside unprepared means certain death. The claustrophobic world the people inhabit is always present, but through the camera it appears to be livable, if not severely tight on space.
The raw sound of the wind in this movie is enough to give you chills all over your body. Mix that with the actual score and the tension mounts until you are anxious as to what will happen. This anxiety may be attributed to the use of horror genre techniques. There is the build-up through music of fear in the viewer that adds a welcome layer to many of the scenes. Your heart races wondering just what is in store for a character around the corner or through the next door. When the moment happens the suspense leading up to it has been secured. Whether you are inside or outside, every sound or note of music in this movie is meant to portray action, clue you in to the future, or set you up for what you least expected. Well done indeed.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Dominic Sena
- Producer(s): Jon HoeberErich HoeberChad HayesCarey W. Hayes
- Screenwriter(s): Kate Beckinsale (Carrie Stetko)
- Cast: Christopher SoosGraham “Grace” Walker
- Cinematographer: John Frizzell
- Production Designer(s): Intrigue
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s): Hybride Technologies
- Music Score: Invisible Pictures
- Music Performed By: Mr. X
- Country Of Origin: USACanada