The trailer for Whiteout may have misled you, slightly. Going in, you might think that the reason Kate Beckinsale and her crew are afraid for their lives while stuck at their research facility in the South Pole is that they've discovered some kind of volatile alien artifact, awoken some long-dormant Cthulhuian demon, or maybe gotten to the end of SkiFree, where that abominable snowman comes out and eats you. Sadly, the actual plot of Whiteout never even intimates these kinds of possibilities. It's a straight-up suspense thriller with a totally standard killer, whose motives are never construed to be anything but material.
This isn't a bad thing -- it's just a bit telling that the ad campaign surrounding Whiteout tried to make the story a little ambiguous. Because, as it is, this movie is pretty generic. After a brief flashback to a Russian plane crash 50 years ago, the film opens on Beckinsale peeling off her U.S. Marshal's extreme weather gear one layer at a time before getting in the shower for a sexy naked-body-slightly-obscured-by-the-steamy-glass-door shot. That's by far the most exciting thing in the movie. She's soon suiting up again with her buddy Doc (Tom Skerritt), the facility's M.D., to check out a body found out on the ice. The corpse turns out to be an obvious murder, which of course turns up on the eve of the big winter smackdown that will subsequently make it impossible to enter or leave the facility until spring. Investigating the case soon results in Beckinsale narrowly escaping getting stabbed with a grappling hook by an assailant wearing a fairly appropriate ski mask, and she and her small team of stragglers (any of whom just might be the killer) proceed to race against the clock to figure out who's responsible for the carnage and what his or her motivations are before the impending storm, which means staying at the station for the next several months.
The idea of placing the story in Antarctica is pretty cool, at least inasmuch as it results in more than one sequence where the baddie is chasing the victim while they're both harnessed into a ground-level ropes course designed to keep people from getting swept into instant hypothermia by the epic polar winds. But other than that, things are totally standard. Nothing revealed in the narrative content-wise is creative or surprising, and the ending is pretty anticlimactic. But for die-hard fans of traditional suspense thrillers, or maybe of pretty girls in big coats, it's not entirely unwatchable.