If you take a murder mystery and set it in Antarctica, you get... a murder mystery with a lot of ice and snow. Whiteout is a routine whodunit in a new setting.

U.S. Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is the law at a remote Antarctic research station that's days from being evacuated in several days due to an oncoming storm. Stetko has a haunted past (shown in flashbacks), a friend in elderly doctor John "Doc" Fury (Tom Skeritt), and a desire to leave law enforcement. When recent pilot Delfy (Columbus Short) sees a body on the ice, Stetko investigates.

Soon Stetko is immersed in a mystery. Who killed a scientist from another base -- and why was he in the middle of nowhere with no gear? Can agent Pryce (Gabriel Macht) be trusted -- or did he turn up near another victim because he's the killer? And what does all this have to do with a Russian plane that crashed 50 years earlier?

Whiteout is most illuminating when it gives glimpses of living in a part of the world where below freezing is the norm. Guide ropes link buildings so people don't get lost and freeze to death dozens of feet away from safety. Touching metal with a bare hand can have terrible consequences. And everyone is a suspect.

As a mystery movie, Whiteout offers little new beyond the location. A mystery figure dressed all in black pops up now and then to swing an ice axe at people, the aforementioned guide ropes serve to offer up chase scenes set in a very small area, and characters voice what they see and think in case simply showing it to the audience isn't enough. None of the actors really stand out (and I think it's sexist that Beckinsale is shown stripping down to her underwear, then showering, before her character even speaks) and the mystery's revelation is neither disappointing nor thrilling. Once you get past the blinding snows in Whiteout, you realize you've seen it all before.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch

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