“The Cold Light of Day,” written by Scott Wiper and John Petro, directed by Mabrouk El Mechri, 93 minutes, rated PG-13.
By June 2013, everyone in the world will be talking about Henry Cavill, who was cast as Superman in the upcoming reboot by Zack Snyder. He’ll grace the cover of magazines, make the rounds on late night talk shows, and become the household heartthrob of the moment. But, for right now, our new Man of Steel will have to be content living in a state of limbo to superstardom, as his latest venture, “The Cold Light of Day,” is an all-around dud.
A generic thriller in every sense of the word, “The Cold Light of Day” takes us to Spain, where we’re introduced to a cranky Will Shaw (Cavill), who’s being guilted into a family vacation in the midst of a crisis at his job. After an argument with his father, Martin (Bruce Willis), on their sailboat, Will swims to shore to blow off some steam running errands in town. When he returns, the boat is gone, and so is his family.
Going to the police in a panic, Will finds himself in a pinch with some corrupt officers, only to be rescued by his father, who reveals to Will that he is, in fact, a CIA agent. As Will digs deeper into the whereabouts of his abducted family, his father’s concealed past comes to light as he searches for a mysterious briefcase sought by his family’s captors.
A thriller has to be tight, well-paced, and, most importantly, surprising. There have to be twists and turns, and while director Mabrouk El Mechri and writers Scott Wiper and John Petro keep a decent pace, they forget to add the element of surprise. Everything here can be taken at face value. Sigourney Weaver’s Carrack is bad from the second we meet her, and never once will the audience question that. The same could be said for all the characters, and for the story, which seems content on just getting from Point A to Point B. A thriller like this requires more intricate plot devices to throw viewers for a loop.
One of the biggest contributors to the film’s obtuse characters and storytelling is its poor dialogue. Every conversation is used to spell out exactly what has or what will happen on screen, in broad, childlike Crayola strokes. “The Cold Light of Day” has no sense of subtlety or subtext, and because of that, it comes off as amateurish, like a first draft that desperately needs an editor.
So the film is a flop, but what’s the verdict on Cavill?
He’ll be a star, no doubt. You get glimpses of that here, but he, along with co-stars Willis and Weaver, can only do so much with the material they’re given. The film’s only real positive aspect is its setting. Madrid is an amazing city to film in, and you really can’t mess that up.