Spain is the backdrop for mild thrills in this lame kidnap caper.
It’s tough to know why this movie is called The Cold Light of Day. The term is never spoken, never alluded to and does nothing to add any resonance to the largely confused and confusing, Spain-set B-thriller that takes place over a thrill-neutral 93 minutes. What’s more, it’s a title that wouldn’t really work were the film a surprise hit and a sequel were required. It’s as if its makers had pre-resigned themselves to this being a single-serving franchise. Frankly, they were right to do so.
Henry Cavill, a man with a jaw-bone so square you could quite easily sharpen a machete on it, starts as Will Shaw, a rinky dink business consultant who’s touched down in Spain in order to spend some time with his well-to-do folks. For the first ten minutes, the awkward rapport between Will and his coolly antagonistic pops (Bruce Willis) comes to a head on the family sail boat when the latter gets peeved at Will’s constant text messaging, and so frisbees his BlackBerry into the briny. Will swims ashore to let off some steam and grab a Coke, but by the time he returns, Israeli terrorists have captured his family and are demanding “a briefcase” in return for their safety.
The touch paper is lit and Will has 24 hours to dart around Madrid looking sullen and confused while fitting the pieces of the puzzle together, a task that becomes even tougher once he learns a predictably dark secret about his nomadic father’s extra curricular activities as American cultural attaché. Will, of course, eventually locates his inner action man and it’s not long before he’s engaging in some DIY abseiling and heedlessly spraying an underground car park with hot lead in his search for the truth.
Cavill will soon be hitting headlines as he slinks into the tricolour spandex uniform of Superman in Zack Snyder’s forthcoming Man of Steel, though you’d be pushed to see this cheapjack mess as a harbinger of good things. His performance largely comprises variations on a semi-strained grimace, hardly the “I’m gonnae find yis and I’m gonnae kill yis” rage that Liam Neeson managed to whip up in such superior Euro-hokum as Taken and Unknown.
Director Mabrouk El Mechri, for whom this is a follow-up to his nifty meta-actioner, JCVD, is fine (and nothing more) when it comes to photographing car chases and shoot-outs. There are, however, serious deficiencies elsewhere. The human characters in the film appear to hold little interest for him, down to the fact that he seldom chooses to even present them to the audience. Caroline Goodall, playing Will’s mother Laurie, apparently doesn’t even warrant a single close-up even though her safety is paramount to our emotional investment in Will’s mission.
Sigourney Weaver clocks in as a shady CIA operative in what is essentially the same role she played in defective Taylor Lautner vehicle Abduction. Her figure-hugging black business suit, eerily calm comportment and cavalier attitude towards preserving human life do little to add any class to this depressingly inoffensive runaround.
No press previews for critics, lots of posters on buses. Doesn't bode well…
It's a few increments better than last year's Abduction. But only just.
The wait for the definitive Henry Cavill calling card movie continues.