“The Cold Light of Day” is the “story” of a young man whose family is kidnapped while on a sailing holiday. While he is briefly separated from them, their family sailboat is boarded and his mother, brother and brother’s girlfriend are taken. Eventually he discovers that his father (Bruce Willis) is a CIA agent, and that the family is being used as pawns in an international espionage battle over a mysterious briefcase.
Unfortunately, the brief plot description above is deeper than the shooting script the production worked off of. “The Cold Light of Day” is one of those generic, nondescript action films that give action movies a bad name.
Our future Superman Henry Cavill stars as Will Shaw, who has flown into Spain to spend a week sailing with his family. He has a distant relationship with them, and seems more concerned for his failing business at home. In fact, he threatens to leave early. After his father (Bruce Willis)
conveniently angrily throws his cell phone into the sea, Will decides to swim to shore and into town and make a phone call there, instead. When he’s finished, he finds the boat has moved, and his family has been kidnapped. He goes to the authorities, but quickly figures out that they’re somehow involved… With no one to turn to and no one he can trust, Will is on the run, trying to figure out how to find and save his family.
And he’s basically on the run for the entire movie. In fact, there’s so much running and jumping and car chasing that it has the opposite of the intended effect. All that action should be kinetic and exciting, but with such an overabundance of it, the film winds up feeling inert. It doesn’t help that the movie is saddled with terrible direction (thanks go to Mabrouk El Mechri of JCVD fame) and hyper-active editing that results in the action sequences being chopped to such shreds as to be visually unintelligible. I mean, if you’re going to have a movie that’s 95% action, it should at least be decent action, right?
It’s not, here. It’s crap.
Unfortunately the film has nothing else to offer aside from this excess of poorly done, cliché addled, ADD action sequences. By the time Sigourney Weaver’s “Who’s side is she on?” CIA heavy shows up, you probably already won’t care. Which is fine, she mails it in anyways. There was no character establishment for Cavill’s character, Willis’ character, or any of the characters… There’s also no plot. Spy movies should be elaborate games of chess. This one is barely even checkers. His family was taken in order to force the return of a “briefcase”. Ok, so it actually IS a briefcase, but I thought it deserved to be put it in quotes because we’re never actually told what’s so important about it. What’s IN it. Seriously. I think that’s because that would have required the screenwriters to think, and no one wants them to hurt themselves over this.
I’m even going to rag on the score. I’m telling you, this movie sucked that bad. I’m relatively certain that I can download some kind of music software somewhere, take two weeks (with no prior experience) and come up with a comparable score. The music here is as bland and nondescript as one could possibly hope for. I challenge anyone to go into the film, focus on the music, and be able to hum two bars ten minutes after leaving the theatre.
What we’re left here is a horrifying waste of time. It’s one continuous, generic chase scene for a poorly explained reason, featuring an ill-defined character, all set to bland, forgettable music.