Star power fails to save ‘Cold Light of Day’

Photo by DIEGO LOPEZ CALVINBruce Willis, left, and Henry Cavill play father and son in The Cold Light of Day.
Photo by DIEGO LOPEZ CALVINBruce Willis, left, and Henry Cavill play father and son in The Cold Light of Day.

Reviewer’s Rating: ★

“The Cold Light of Day” is a remarkably unremarkable thriller that will leave you absentmindedly scratching your chin and wondering how much money they had to pay Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver to star in such a dud.

Henry Cavill, star of “The Immortals” and the upcoming Superman movie, stars as a young entrepreneur named Will Shaw whose company goes under the same day he joins his family in Spain for a long-delayed vacation. Workaholic Will gets along just fine with his mother (Caroline Goodall)and brother (Rafi Gavron), but his cold, distant father Martin (Bruce Willis) is another matter. When Martin chucks Will’s cell phone off the family sailboat, Will heads into town to get some air and find a pay phone. When he finally returns to the boat, it’s been ransacked and his family is missing. Now, it’s up to Will, who has no military or surveillance training whatsoever, to find a mysterious briefcase and evade a group of highly-trained assassins.

There are several twists throughout the movie, but it’s hard not to see them coming from several miles away. In a genre where surprise and suspense are prerequisites, “The Cold Light of Day” feels like a toothless imitator with plenty of gunshots and chase scenes, but very little genuine shock and awe. Casting a regular Joe as the hero of a spy thriller was a bad call. This film wants to be a “Bourne” movie, and that kind of clever action just doesn’t make sense coming from anyone but a trained spy.

The film is fun to look at with Madrid and Mediterranean beachside towns providing suitably exotic vistas in which to run-and-gun. Gone are the shaky camera documentary-style cinematography that audiences either loved or hated in the “Bourne” films. The action is as easy to follow as the semi-translucent plot, and the absence of techno-babble and spy jargon that make most movies of this genre confusing for many viewers are also absent. “The Cold Light of Day” seems well-aware of the fact that it is destined to be a movie you might watch in snippets while making dinner or during commercials of a more interesting show, and never tests the viewer’s patience or mental capacity.

Henry Cavill is a serviceable leading man, and all the actors do pretty well with what little the script gives them. In the end, however, just about every move “The Cold Light of Day” makes—every supposed twist—has been done before. It’s almost as if a professor of film studies made up this script off the top of his head during class to explain to his students what “hackneyed” means.

All in all, this is one spy thriller you won’t be defecting for any time soon.