About a quarter of the way through “The Cold Light of Day” I was really wondering why everyone had been so hard on the film. I was already preparing for my defense of the movie and the ribbing I would be getting for it. But then things changed. Bruce Willis disappears, Henry Cavill takes center stage, and the bottom falls out. Now I usually don’t like to dwell too long on a movie’s bad points but sometimes you just can’t avoid it. Especially when the entire movie takes a nose dive right before your very eyes. Things definitely go bad here and the movie erases nearly every bit of promise it offers early on.
The idea of the movie is sound enough. Will Shaw (Cavill) arrives in Spain where he plans to spend the week with his vacationing family. We quickly learn that Will doesn’t have the best relationship with his father (Bruce Willis) and the tension between the two is evident. But Will doesn’t make things easy. He sulks and mopes and spends more time on his cell phone checking on his business in San Francisco. This self-centered immaturity pops up throughout the film. I mean even later, when Will is supposed to be ‘a new man’, his character reminds me of a 14-year old with some of the things he does.
The group takes a sailboat off the coast for a day, but Will and his father have a huge argument leading Will to swim into town to get supplies and cool off. When he gets back to the beach to he notices that the boat is gone. He walks the beaches searching until he finds it in a cove. Nobody is on board and it appears there was a struggle. Neither the police or American Embassy are willing to help and Will begins to find out some interesting things about his father. I don’t want to give away any of the few surprises (and I mean very few) this movie has so let’s just say he ends up with a host of people chasing him through Madrid while he tries to find a way to save his family.
One of the biggest problems with “The Cold Light of Day” is that things get so blasted silly. The film takes so many convenient, out of the blue turns and the characters do some of the most idiotic things. Sigourney Weaver, a talented and accomplished actress, enters the picture and you would think she would be a stabilizing force. Not so! Her character is as cheesy and corny as they come and I often found myself just shaking my head at her flailing attempts at tough guy dialogue. Her character’s angle as well as several other aspects of the story are completely predictable which cuts into any of the suspense the film was hoping for. And any type of plot that happens to catch you by surprise still feels totally contrived.
None of this is helped by Henry Cavill. If I may be unapologetically blunt for a moment, Cavill is absolutely awful here. Now to be fair it doesn’t help that he’s given such boneheaded dialogue. But his performance even sinks below that. Cavill is at his best when he’s sprinting through the streets, jumping over cars, and ducking for cover (and he does a ton of that). But once he’s asked to say a line or show some emotion, well lets just say I’m suddenly a little worried about the upcoming “Man of Steel” movie.
Now this movie features some good camera work and it’s shot in some gorgeous locations. I absolutely loved seeing the sights of Madrid as the movie moves from one part of the city to another. I enjoyed the first third of the film and thought it opened itself up nicely. It also moves at a good crisp pace and at 90 minutes it doesn’t drag things out longer than it should. But the pluses don’t absolve the movie of its clear transgressions and as it moves forward things completely fall apart. I remember when I first saw the trailer for this film. I thought it had a lot of potential. It did. Unfortunately the movie wastes practically all of it.