Whiteout (French: Whiteout : Enfer blanc) is a 2009 thriller film based on the 1998 comic book of the same name by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, and released on September 11, 2009.
The film was produced under the banner of Dark Castle Entertainment by Joel Silver, Susan Downey and David Gambino, is directed by Dominic Sena with uncredited reshoots by Stuart Baird and Len Wiseman, is distributed by Warner Bros., and stars Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht and Alex O'Loughlin in the lead roles.
The movie opens in 1957, inside a Russian cargo plane flying above Antarctica. In the cargo hold, three Russians sit with a padlocked box. The co-pilot launches a gun fight that soon leads to the plane crashing and the death of all aboard.
The setting then changes to the modern day and to the United States's Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica where newcomers have arrived, and others who are scheduled to leave are preparing to do so early because of a storm. They must depart before the onset of winter or remain in the base for six months. Deputy U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) has been working in Antarctica for two years, since a betrayal by her partner in Miami which through flashbacks reveals that her unnamed partner was at the time in league with the very criminal they were after. Carrie killed the criminal after he tried to kill her before being forced to shoot her partner who died after crashing through a window of the hotel they were in before landing on the street below.
As such, Stetko plans to retire after returning to the United States in two days. Stetko, her friend Doc (Tom Skerritt), and pilot Delfy (Columbus Short) fly to the remote Haworth Mesa to retrieve a discovered body. The dead man is Anton Weiss, one of a group of three scientists looking for meteorites.
An autopsy finds evidence that Weiss was murdered by an axe with the murder requiring a federal investigation; Stetko considers sending the body to McMurdo Station to avoid spending another winter in Antarctica, but decides to continue the investigation.
When Stetko goes to speak to John Mooney, one of the scientists who's at Vostok Station, she finds him dying from a neck wound and is herself attacked by a black-clad man with an axe. Stetko manages to escape but unfortunately, injures her hand in escaping, losing the wet skin of her fingers on the metal handle of a door. Later, she finds Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht), a UN security agent, examining the body of the second scientist. They conclude that the third, a man named Michael Rubin who is missing, must be the killer and set out to explore the group’s most recent research site. There, Stetko falls through the ice to find the old Russian cargo plane. Pryce and Delfy join her to investigate, and they realize that the locked box had been opened and six cylinders removed. Pryce reveals that it is possible that nuclear fuel of interest to arms traffickers may be in the cylinders.
After nearly being trapped by a cave-in at the plane, Stetko must have her badly frostbitten fingers amputated by Doc which leaves her devastated. She then finds Rubin hiding in her office who tells her that he and his two companions found the plane and took the canisters, but the killer has them now. Before Stetko can protect him, the hooded figure who attacked Carrie emerges, grabbing Rubin and pulling him into the snow.
He tries to get away but the killer having discarded his axe isn't bothered whatsoever, simply choosing to break Rubin's neck, killing him instantly but as the figure tries to leave, Carrie emerges, knocking out the figure with a shovel.
Later on, in an interrogation room, it's revealed that the murderer is none other than Australian biologist Russell Haden (Alex O'Loughlin). He states that his name, his nationality and that he wants to talk to his people and when he tells Stetko that she looks with a few parts missing, referring to the two lost fingers on her left hand, Stetko and Pryce turn the tables, threatening to remove Haden's pinky finger.
Under the threat, Haden relents, stating that he hid what they were looking in his gear and as that happens, the base commander orders everyone to evacuate because of the murders while Stetko and Pyrce throw Haden into the brig.
With Haden locked in the brig and the winter storm near, Stetko and Pryce search for the canisters but things take a turn for the worse when Stetko returns to the brig to discover that Haden has escaped and is on the loose.
Carrie grabs her gun and heads for the lab, discovering Delfy lying on the floor, bleeding, having been stabbed, presumably by Haden. Pyrce and Doc eventually arrive and as Doc works on treating Delfy, Stetko and Pyrce search for Haden which leads them to the outside area where the storm, a "Whiteout", is raging.
With their sight poor due to the snow, the two are forced to navigate through the blinding snow only by the system of security ropes after Carrie discovers Haden plans on escaping the Base via a plane but when they reach the plane, they learn he's disappeared. Carrie instantly realizes that Haden is double-backing, heading back to the entrance which means that he's planning on locking them out of the Base for good as soon as he gets there. The two leave the plane and head back, catching Haden in the nick of time who takes off again after realizing that they're after him.
As the storm hits, Carrie and Pyrce are engaged in a battle against Haden who has a great advantage against them and who's proving to be a brutal fighter. With Carrie out of the way, Haden turns his attention to finishing Pryce, only for Pyrce to fight back with the two evenly matched in hand-to-hand combat. Just as Haden's about to strike, Pyrce intervenes, grabbing the bag Haden was carrying and with Haden distracted, Carrie emerges, cutting Haden's rope and as such, Haden is dragged screaming into the raging storm where he presumably freezes to death.
Meanwhile, with Haden now gone for good, Stetko and Pryce head back to the safety of the Base where they examine the bag that Haden was carrying and they're shocked when they discover that the missing canisters contain only jelly beans.
In the main area of the Base, as Delfy recovers, Stetko continues her investigation, checking the last departing plane's cargo manifest and she learns that the bodies of the dead scientists were not aboard. She searches their body bags and notices that the stitching on Weiss's old wound matches the distinctive stitch pattern on her amputated fingers. Stetko explores the body and finds several bags of large, uncut diamonds inside one of the victim's stomachs. She then gets a shock when Doc emerges, confessing that he was part of a diamond smuggling ring with the others before Haden killed the rest with Doc voicing his hope that the diamonds would make him wealthy outside Antarctica and that Haden and the rest of them all got too greedy. When Doc tells Stetko he wants to see the aurora australis one last time, he heads outside into the raging storm and also to his death while Carrie simply stands there, still struggling to come to terms with the devastating betrayal.
Six months later, Stetko, Pryce, and Delfy have wintered at the facility. She transmits an email to her superior, rescinding her previous resignation and asking for a warmer location for her assignment before heading outside where she gets a glimpse of the aurora australis before heading off to begin her rounds.
Kate Beckinsale as Carrie Stetko, a Deputy U.S. Marshal who investigates the killings.
Tom Skerritt as Dr. John Fury, a doctor at the Base who is later revealed to have been Russell Haden's partner.
Columbus Short as Delfy, a pilot, who helps Stetko in the investigation.
Gabriel Macht as Robert Pryce, a UN security agent who aids Stetko in the investigation although the two butt heads at first.
Alex O'Loughlin as Russell Haden, a biologist and also the killer.
Shawn Doyle as Sam Murphy, the Station's manager.
Arthur Holden as McGuire
Bashar Rahal as Russian Pilot
Roman Varshavky as Russian guard