The Cold Light of Day (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Cold Light of Day (2012)

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Well, it's nice to see someone try, I suppose. The new flick The Cold Light of Day is a thriller first and an action movie second, though neither fare very well in the end.

It starts with young businessman Will (Henry Cavill) heading to Spain to spend a week with his family. His gruff father (Bruce Willis) is distant, and the two grow frustrated with each other as they head out on a sail boat. After an injury befalls Will's brother's girlfriend, Will heads ashore. When he returns, though, the boat has been emptied and trashed.

His father reappears to rescue him from some thuggish police officers, and soon he's making a confession. A character that Bruce Willis is playing may actually be a spy.

"A spy?" "A SPY"

Here's where the movie goes full Hitchcock: Will drives his father to a rendezvous with Carrack (Sigourney Weaver), and then sees him get shot and killed. Now he's on the run, with only a gun and his father's cell phone in a foreign city. Who's trying to kill him? Why did they kidnap his family? Who does everyone work for? What time is it? Can I go get some Milk Duds and come back without missing anything?

Sadly, no, Milk Duds are the superior option here. Nothing against Cavill, but these Hitchcock 'innocent man on the run' scenarios usually work because there's still some dark humor to them, both deflating themselves but relishing in the adventure at the same time.The Cold Light of Daypresents opportunities, but drowns them out with meaningless reckonings.

Take the odd cul de sac of Will discovering that a secretary in a Madrid office is actually his half sister. Besides saving us from a romantic lead, this only serves to make Willis' father character more dishonest. Since the last half of the movie has Will remaining steadfastly devoted to the idea that his dad didn't know that he was being used by a rogue agent, it gets trying. Moreso because Will keeps shouting that his dad, "was an honest man!" which is difficult to swallow since he shouts that at the half sister he never knew he had.

It is interesting to see Sigourney Weaver's eyebrows change shades throughout the movie at least.

There's also the fact that the police force in Madrid is so incompetent that Israeli special forces wander through the place with automatic weaponry without raising so much as an eyebrow. Look at the final car chase through the streets of Madrid, which involve a Land Rover and a BMW going up and down staircases and through redlights. The chase lasts ten minutes, and no police cars arrive. The chase seems to simply endure to show us just how much beating a Land Rover can take. Land Rover.

There are a handful of nice throwaway moments that seem to come from a better movie, from Will's initial crappiness with a gun (including having to check the safety a few times) to an improvised repair of Will's bullet wound in the back of a night club. Will's character is so essentially underdeveloped that it's frustrating and makes it hard to relate to him.

Director Mabrouk El Mechri was also behind the fascinating JCVD a few years back, one of those deconstructions of 80's action hero mythos, and one of the few that actually works. Cold Light of Day is his first English film, and while he's certainly got a good idea and picks out some beautiful scenery, he never manages to make the action feel consequential.

If you enjoy seeing Henry Cavill make this face, then I've got a movie for you!

Worse, Will's plight never feels consequential. The best Hitchcock thrillers along these lines had people like Cary Grant or James Stewart playing the role, so even if the character is skimpy, the actor's persona makes up for it. Merchri does this well in JCVD and here by casting Willis and Weaver, but bungles it with Cavill. The man is such a non-entity it's hard to dig your claws into him.

The film's plot is a mishmash of conspiracy theory wackiness and xenophobia, but not strong enough to present either in an interesting light. Sadly, for such an auspicious beginning and some lovely shot scenery, the movie quickly turns into an incredibly generic thriller.

Dollars to cents I won't remember this movie next week. Hell, maybe even a few hours.

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Posted by Danny

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  1. Did you ever get around to watching Abduction? I ask because when I saw the trailer for The Cold Light of Day I thought that they had just decided to remake the earlier film and eliminate any trace of a minority presence. I’m curious how the two synch up, especially since Sigourney Weaver looks like she just walked from one set to the other, same costume and all.

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