We both quite enjoyed the original comic book by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, and I sort of feel dutiful in regards to watching movies based on comic books, so it wasn't a big debate at the video store. We both kind of wanted a fun, popcorn movie.
The comic is a very good comic, and one that is routinely referred to as a "girlfriend book", in that it's one that a fanboy can give to his girlfriend and odds are they'll like it. It has a good story, a decent murder mystery, and two very strong, unique, and not over-sexualized female leads that you can get behind and root for, a US Marshal and a British Intelligence agent. They're tough and smart and are just generally cool characters to read about.
You can read the first issue of the mini-series at Steve Lieber's website.
Okay, so now, you've got this movie. You've got two female leads and one of them is a British Intelligence agent. Kate Beckinsale is signed on. You're thinking "Nice! Who's gonna play the US Marshal?" Yeah, that's where things go wrong. Beckinsale is cast as the American police officer. Seriously. Who get's to play the strong, female British operative? Gabriel Macht (of The Spirit... uh, fame?) of course!
Yeah, the studio decided that a story with two female leads wouldn't work, so not only did they make one of them male, they cast an actress from London and made her the American cop. Macht is...there? He doesn't add tension to the story. He doesn't really add a sexual element. He was more memorable as being awful in The Spirit, compared to the job he did on this film.
The movie chopped up the source material, and didn't evoke the same feeling of tension, isolation, or mystery. The characters were mostly bland, (Tom Skerritt as the Doctor was the exception, but even then, he was mostly just playing Doctor Tom Skerritt) and they sort of spoiled the whole idea of "Whiteout" as girlfriend-friendly by "sexing-up" the only female character left in the story.
I'm a sucker for all things Antarctic, it should be noted. From Scott and Shackleton to the March of the Penguins, if it's about the South Pole, you're already got some leeway with me. I was anxious to see the effect they would use for a whiteout (a blinding, lethal snow storm), and even that was just sort of meh, okay, whatever.
I should have known, if I had done my homework. The director, Domenic Sena, has done such gems as "Swordwish"and "Gone in 60 Seconds". Basically movies that had really good trailers, but you'd never really want to watch.
The movie wasn't awful, as many of the reviews put it. One could sit though it easily enough, sort of on par with an episode of CSI Miami. You know, not great, but it's on, so one might as well watch. My main issue is that the original source materiel was so good, that the movie was just an immense letdown.
In any case, The movie gets a "if it's on the movie channel on a Sunday afternoon while you're folding your laundry, I guess so" rating from me. Otherwise, just read the book.