THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY Review

After several delays it became more and more evident exactly what the The Cold Light of Day really was. There is nothing that could have made this film look any less inspired except for the possibility that rising star Henry Cavill chose it as an opportunity to put his stamp on a good little chase film. The new Superman will have to continue trying though as this forgettable little action film from unknown director Mabrouk El Mechri reaches the pinnacle of generic. There is no depth to the script and no real time to even get to know the motivations of the stock characters that wander across the screen. One has to be curious as to how these kinds of movies continue to get made and with such impressive casts. As you watch the film you cannot help but to wonder who read this and thought it stood a chance of rising above an already crowded season of drudge and bland action flicks. Dropped in the wasteland that can be late August and early September the film will still have trouble finding an audience. What stood out besides an easy paycheck and free vacation to credible actors like Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver who show up, do what they are accustomed to and leave without even caring what the circumstances of their characters are? Probably that paycheck and free vacation, but still despite the lovely tour of Madrid the film does provide in spots I can't help but to feel I'm going to take out all my frustrations on the studio system for dumping this type of generic crap on unsuspecting moviegoers who will pay their good money to see Willis and Cavill in a good old fashioned action film when Willis is dead less than twenty minutes in.

Martin Shaw (Bruce Willis) and Sigourney Weaver's
typical CIA agents confront one another.
The paperthin plot of the film concerns Will Shaw (Cavill) who is fresh off the plane in Spain and not all that ready to spend a week sailing with his family. This family consisting of a father (Willis) he has clearly never had a strong relationship with and a mother played by Caroline Goodall who wants to put a nice blanket over everything. There is also a younger brother and his girlfriend who serve absolutely no purpose other than to have more people in peril. Even as we learn that why our protagonist isn't exactly excited to be reunited with the family we wait to see how it will affect the overall plot of the film. It doesn't. I even went to the lengths in my brain of wondering if I missed something in the film because of the fact that important facets of our characters were exposed with no reference to them later on. They were simply stated as a fact about that purpose and used in no way further to even develop the character. It's not even a spoiler to say that Will's small business is bankrupt because there is no more to it than that. He's a little stressed out and understandably, but things only get worse when he leaves the boat to go into town to get some supplies and arrives back to find the boat ransacked and his family missing. His dad shows back up and informs his oldest son of the truth about him and his career, that he is a CIA agent and owes some other angry intelligent agents a briefcase (which we seriously never find out the contents of) that he has from a mission a few months ago. Sigourney Weaver then shows up and it gets really ridiculous and twisted just to the point that you know exactly whats coming next.

Will (Henry Cavill) gets in deeper than he ever imagined
after his family disappears.
I kid you not when I say that the story is that straight forward and there are no layers to it. At one point in the film Will finds a companion in Lucia (Veronica Echegui) and when she asks him what he does he tells her he is a business consultant. No more, no less. The script is so vague with its action film cliches it doesn't even bother to give us reasonable explanations for how Will is so suddenly able to defend himself against government trained agents who have years of experience on him. Other than his size and an early reference to his domination in high school sports, we have nothing and are led to believe his broad physique and obvious intelligence (he has his own business, duh!) will help carry him through these traumatic experiences. Let us not forget the tagline though, "instinct is his only weapon". The film at least realizes its own gaping hole in logic and therefore attempts to chock it up to the genetic bad-assery of Willis being the guys dad. Oh please, don't try to brainwash me with your poster before I walk into the theater and call you out. Will goes onto discover many things about his father that before his death had made him the mysterious and brutal figure he never got along with. What bugs me most about the film is likely this fact though. Willis is obviously a big pull for the film, likely more even than the fact its serving as a precursor to Cavill's turn as the man of steel, but even his character is nothing more than a cameo and after he is gone there is no justification for why all of the running, shooting, and conflict in general had to take place. What was in the suit case? What drove a man who is made out to be a stand up guy in parts to betray his country? We don't know because we are provided as many facts to think the guy is a scumbag as we are to think he did this for the benefit of someone other than himself. I honestly hope that the screenplay was much thicker than the film it has produced because once everyone is safe here the credits roll with no explanation as to what was really going on.

The Shaw family are the only one's held in real
suspense in The Cold Light of Day.
"Thanks for helping us clean up our own mess," and "your father was an honest man," are the closest things we get to any kind of explanation before the film wraps up two minutes later with another one of those unresolved plot lines laying in a hospital bed. There is a line included in there somewhere as well that hints at the fact someone, somewhere actually thought this movie might warrant a sequel and that Will Shaw would become some kind of franchise but if they were going to cut anything from the film it should have been that line as this film stands no chance of seeing a future beyond its limited first week of September release. I will be surprised if it even makes it into the top ten at the box office this weekend. I don't usually wish ill will on a film, but the urge to do so here has overcome me. Not because I particularly hated the movie that much but because of what this movie represents. A straightforward action movie that has combined elements of every film like this we have ever seen before and dumped it on unsuspecting audiences on a slow weekend at the movies where people will see it because they like Willis and they like Weaver or they want to know what this Cavill kid is all about because they haven't watched The Tudors. It's like serving crap to someone who's never had chocolate and telling them it's chocolate. It's messed up and will forever derive their opinion of a genre that can sometimes be so exhilarating and intelligent at the same time. The Cold Light of Day is neither of these things and deserves to have stayed on that shelf it sat on for so long. If we don't see the films they won't keep making them. Let's use this generic piece of dumbed-down entertainment to make a point rather than prove them right.