Movie Reviews

‘The Cold Light of Day’: Bleak and forgettable

By Patrick BenjaminMovies - 22 August 2012 3:06 PM

‘The Cold Light of Day’: Bleak and forgettable

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Rating: 1 star out of 5

Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri (‘JVCD’), this is a bleak and forgettable 93 minutes of C-grade thrill-free thriller set in scenic Madrid.

So folks, ever wanted to know what happens when the worst outtakes of the ‘Bourne’ Series and ‘Die Hard’ franchise are feebly clobbered together? Here’s the answer to keep you squinting as hard as Bruce Willis.  

Keeping in line with rules of the contemptuously mediocre celluloid dampener, we bear witness to average dude (only if he is as ripped as a heavyweight boxer and has GQ cover gracing looks) who gets caught in the throes of a government conspiracy and must beat the clock to find a mysterious suitcase while trying to maintain his sanity in the mandatory frenzy of double-crossing, shoot-outs and car chases to save the day. And not surprisingly, it involves yet another tired fable of an American losing something in Europe.

Down for some reluctant family bonding, troubled, young biz consultant Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) travels to sunny Alicante, for a holiday on his family’s yacht.

The simmering tension between Will and his crusty “cultural attaché” father, Martin (Bruce Willis) anchoring the opening ten minutes of this flick is as jarringly awkward as fishing for a BlackBerry in an open sea. Wily Bruce Willis might have been in almost a hundred films, and that’s why it’s more disheartening to see him waffle through a raft of crappy dialogue here (likely recorded in a cold studio after the shoot) for presumably an all-expenses paid Spanish sailing jaunt.

In a weirdly blatant rehearsal for his role as Superman in Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’, the ultra-buff Will Shaw (Cavill) swims ashore in a huff for some antiseptic, only to return to discover his family missing and unwittingly stranded in a muddle of international espionage intrigue involving a mysterious briefcase and rival operatives.    

For a man who has to rescue his kidnapped family in 24 hours, Will Shaw contrives to wince a one-dimensional weary mug and never steps into the emotional turbulence and depth which the likes of Liam Neeson explored in thriller escapades such as ‘Unknown’ and ‘Taken’. Even with the introduction of a newly found half-sister Lucia (Veronica Echegui), who valiantly tries to help him navigate around her hometown, he still revels in his mastery of emotional blankness.

Despite struggling to convey a palette of emotions, he does look the part of an action hero with his dangerous improvised abseiling, deft Formula 1 styled driving and gunplay as he is hunted by the power-suited CIA villainess Jean Carrack (Sigourney Weaver) and her scowling, troll-like deputy Gorman (Joseph Mawle) whose only notable contribution was to pump a couple of bullets into Will. 

We can’t help but feel that Jean Carrack literally meant “You f**cking amateur” and “I’m getting sick of this!” as sly personal digs on the director while she coldly careens around Madrid in her rented, fire-resistant suit and opens fire at every goddamn opportunity.

 While the car chases and shoot-outs are handled without a fuss, the same can’t be said of the lack of character development that plagues this movie.  Why the hell as an audience are we going to be involved in the plight of the Shaw Family if we aren’t even given a close-up of Laurie Shaw (Caroline Goodall) who plays the mother? This seems more mysterious than the contents of the briefcase.  

This is one movie that you must avoid unless you have a weird predilection for (a) dull, run-of-the-mill celluloid fare, (b) checking out a clueless hunk wandering in Madrid, (c) enjoying horribly shot day-for-night sequences and/or (d) on a personal quest to catch all six Bruce Willis starring films slated for 2012.  

‘The Cold Light of Day’ opens in theatres 23 August 2012