Set in the funky back alleys of hipster Austin, Texas, the movie lazily follows a set of twins, Jeannie and Lauren (real-life sisters Tilly and Maggie Hatcher), who have the same face but couldn’t be more different. Maggie Hatcher Lauren is an athletic and freewheeling social butterfly, while Jeannie is wheelchair-bound and a studious vintage clothing store owner. When faced with a legal threat from her business partner, Jeannie retreats to the relative safety of her law school student ex-lover Merrill (Alex Karpovsky), while Lauren simply retreats from anything that seems like a hassle, scary stuff like a steady boyfriend or career prospects. The plot’s so slight it doesn’t cast a shadow, but the obliqueness of these mundane struggles leaves plenty of room for the viewer to fill in with imagined details from their own lives.
Based on Greg Rucka’s comic-book series, Whiteout wants to be an exciting snowbound whodunit with Beckinsale’s Carrie Stetko, the marshal of a South Pole science base, tracking down an icepick-wielding murderer. Despite a raging winter storm, plenty of claustrophobic locations and a hearty handful of suspects (though it’s not hard to guess who’s pulling the strings), the mystery and characters are surprisingly conventional, barely rising to the level of a good CSI episode. Credited to four different screenwriters, the script smacks of written-by-committee dialogue and plot developments.
Set in a spooky post-apocalyptic cityscape, an alternate-reality where distinctly Euro architecture mingles with menacing high-tech robotic horrors, the film's conceit is that the humans are dead, and the last resistance left against mechanical killers are nine tiny, conscious rag dolls, imbued by their scientist creator with clashing personalities and a vague sense of carrying on humanity’s unfinished mission. They look a bit like moving hacky sacks, but with large round eyes that helpfully light up in the dark ruins. Their leader is One (Christopher Plummer), a nihilistic, doubting old coot, but the real visionary is Nine (Elijah Wood), a resourceful and gutsy little guy who finds a way to stop the spider-like villains, but only with great risk to himself and his friends.
For the first half-hour, Baader sets you up to believe that you’ll be following the moral and ethical erosion of middle-class Ulrike Meinhof, as her depression gives way to existential anarchy. But as her sullenness deepens, her already internal character becomes less interesting, so we’re left with the amoral but charismatic Baader and Ensslin, whose Teutonic Manson family of misguided, anti-establishment youth becomes obsessed with revolution, death and destruction. It's sprawling but shallow, intellectually satisfying but emotionally barren.