Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

White Out

16 February 2012 by Nicholas in Films

White Out is a comic that was published by Oni Press and written by Greg Rucka with art by Steve Lieber. Although I know I have read it, I would be hard pressed to tell you what it was about. The lead character did appear in a Barry Ween comic though, which I am far more sure of. It is also a film based on the comic starring Kate Beckinsale and Gabriel Nacht. I would suggest Gabriel Nacht steer clear of comic book films (he was The Spirit in the film of the same name) but his career seems to have done a pretty good job of that for him.

As an aside, I used to work in a bakery which had a very large cold room. This cold room got down to about -18C and you would have to wear gloves and a hat and a body warmer, even if you only went in very briefly. The moisture on your skin would freeze and you could feel your nose freeze up painfully. As you left the room your nose would defrost, your skin would thaw and you would get painful pins and needles on your exposed skin.

White Out takes place in temperatures far, far lower than any I encountered in the bakery cold room with nary any of the problems I used to encounter being apparent apart from when they appear as plot points. Flimsy doors hold in tropical temperatures and there is precious little insulation obvious. Other times the same flimsy doors can’t hold in the cold and airlock type rooms are necessary. There is no consistency which hampers all believability.

People go out and their breath isn’t visible. They have no ice appear on their faces, even when their faces are struck by sub arctic winds and blasted by snow and ice. Everyone has beautiful complexions and lipservice is paid to the cold.

Beckinsale is, as ever, limited. She is pretty but she doesn’t do much range and her accent isn’t great. Fortunately no one around her is exceptionally good so it isn’t as if she gets shown up too badly.

Moreso than the lack of consistency and logic in the weather, the plot is very thin. It’s worryingly obvious who the villain of the piece is, and even who the betrayer will be. The red herring, too, is strikingly obvious. This really is a mechanical thriller offering precious few surprises and whose only tension is created by breakdowns in internal consistency and logic.

It’s a shame, really, because Greg Rucka writes great women and there was clearly a good idea here waiting for able execution. Unfortunately, that isn’t what it received.