Despite numerous efforts to bury this picture underneath a giant amount of garbage, Lionsgate/Summit ended up giving The Cold Light of Day a nationwide theatrical release without any real promotion. The film for all intents and purposes is just a tax write off; something they’ve tried to sweep under the rug and rightfully so, because it’s a complete snoozer, full of pointless motives and soap opera quality acting. Henry Cavill‘s performance makes you second-guess the decision to cast him as the upcoming Superman in Man of Steel and Bruce Willis reminds you that he’s just like all of the other money-hungry actors, begging for a paycheck.
Wall Street hotshot Will (Henry Cavill) is taking a much-needed vacation from stocks and trading to relax with his family on a sailing trip. His hard ass dad Martin (Bruce Willis) doesn’t really approve of Will’s constant on-the-go lifestyle, but he shows a bit of happiness through his lifeless face when he watches his son climb aboard the ship.
Will’s dad, mom, brother and his brother’s girlfriend are all in attendance for what appears to be your typical family getaway, but something mysterious happens when Will goes ashore to grab some supplies. He returns to find his family missing and when he goes to the cops they simply brush him off, until eventually leading him to some stranger that is demanding a briefcase from Will’s dad.
His dad is some sort of secret agent and because of his secret agent backstabbing Will must now clean up his father’s mess in hopes of seeing the rest of his family alive. A shady government agent by the name of Carrack (Sigourney Weaver) is thrown into the mix, forcing Will to trust absolutely no one.
The Cold Light of Day shares similar plot points with any number of spy dramas featured on NBC or ABC. It’s your basic scenario in which an everyday man is suddenly thrown into the life of a world-class spy that makes a living double-crossing agencies and stealing briefcases and doing all sorts of sneaky shit behind everyone’s back.
It’s not the life Will asked for, but it’s the life he’s forced into, because he loves his family. I’m not sure why his family is suddenly important to him, because up until this point he’s had nothing but complaints towards his father and his family. Things get even more complicated when he finds out his father’s true identity and that his father (and his mother) have been lying about all of this from the beginning.
The closer Will gets to the resolution the closer director Mabrouk El Mechri‘s film gets to becoming a first-class snoozer. The Cold Light of Day is one “action” film that will for sure test the patience of most audiences. There’s very little action depicted in the film, despite the shootouts and car chases revealed in the trailer. The film is mostly Henry Cavill trying to convince the audience that he can play an angry lead, full of rage and inner-turmoil. What he actually ends up doing is creating a comedic role that gets more bizarre by the minute. He literally spends one scene shouting at a mirror, trying to prove his toughness or whatever you’d like to call it.
Bruce Willis gets second bill in the flick, but he’s really only on the screen for about ten or fifteen minutes. His lasting impact is big, because the story is all about his character, but his name on the billboard is wasted for what’s actually just a walk-on role. He punches a few thugs, but spends most of his time on the camera acting like a grumpy old grouch that is for no reason constantly-disappointed or irritated with his seemingly successful son.
Director Mabrouk El Mechri films this one pretty close to formula, with cameras occasionally drifting off for an artistic shot or two, but mostly remaining snug on the actors and all over the place during the shootouts. The Cold Light of Day looks like your basic low-budget run-of-the-mill TV drama and that’s mostly because it is one. Reading up on the director led me to finding out that he also directed JCVD, which is weird, because that movie took the subject material to the next level and created a very personal and touching story out of a washed-up action star – this does nothing of the sort.
The biggest crime The Cold Light of Day commits is existing. It’s such a routine film that doesn’t even appear to want to be any different than the countless TV shows and cheaply produced films that it rips off and steals from. I’m not sure why the talent even attracted to this mess, because nothing about it screams big paycheck.
Henry Cavill hopefully just had an off month while shooting the film, because his work here is about as bad as the film itself. Bruce Willis was smart enough to get out of dodge before the shit got real stinky, but Cavill chose to ride it out until the very end and that just might be the biggest mistake in his career thus far.
The Cold Light of Day is a cruise-controlled pile of garbage. Lionsgate/Summit knew this going into the release and didn’t even try to hide the film’s true nature, which means going into this one isn’t anyone else’s fault but your own. I’d highly advise against it.
The Cold Light of Day – 4/10