2009, R, 96 min. Directed by Dominic Sena. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 18, 2009
Beckinsale first came to attention as the ingenue Hero in 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing, Kenneth Branagh’s athletic adaptation that was bleached with sun and sweat and all kinds of hormonal hanky-panky. The British actress looked luminous with a tan and light blush; pity, then, that she’s passed the past half-dozen years under a dark cloud, gravitating toward gloomy action pics, in roles that feel plucked from Angelina Jolie’s reject pile. At least the blue-hued Underworld films were trashy fun – would that a leather-clad vampire or snarly lycan stumbled onto the set of this boilerplate serial killer thriller. The setting is Antarctica – which, as a title card helpfully points out (should your grasp of elementary geography fail you), is “the coldest, most isolated land mass” on the planet. There, Beckinsale plays a U.S. marshal stationed on a research base in self-imposed exile after a drug bust in Miami went awry (the details of which are pieced out in uninvolving flashbacks). She’s days away from retirement, set to leave on the last transport off-base before six months of winter descend, but a mutilated body found out on the ice throws a wrench in her plans. While the landscape is intriguing, Sena (Gone in Sixty Seconds) shoots the snowswept action incoherently. As for the action indoors: An opening, ogling shot of Beckinsale disrobing for a steamy shower supplies the trashy, but the fun is nowhere to be found in this overly dour duller.