Much the way that Die Hard was endlessly imitated ad-nauseum throughout the 90s, now it seems that the modern action template is the adventures of a certain Jason Bourne. The Cold Light of Day wants to be The Bourne Identity so bad it’s painful for both the film and the audience. Things start off okay with the fairly strange European locale (in this case Spain) and the buff every-man played by Henry Cavill coming from a failing business state-side to holiday with his family including his gruff ‘government employee’ father played by Bruce Willis on his boat. Things continue in promising fashion when after throwing a hissy fit (the first of many) Cavill ends up swimming into town (!?) and making a phone call and buying a coke for no other reason than Willis throwing his Blackberry in the sea because he was ruining the family holiday. This of course gets him off the boat for a bit so the cardboard cut outs that he calls a family can get taken by the same lot who stole Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken, or so it seems but they aren’t Albanian this time. This is where things go from stiff to ridiculous. Cavill blunders back into town shouting at the cops and acting like a spoilt child, gets suspicious for no apparent reason and ends up fighting with the cops and stealing a cop car. On his journey he meets up with dear old dad again and finds out that he isn’t actually the embassy employee he claimed to be and the people who have taken the family want the old McGuffin of a mysterious briefcase back or they all die. Without spoiling things, the plot moves along so that Cavill ends up having to fly solo and save his family and goes from every-man to bad ass with absolute ease.
There isn’t any reason why The Cold Light of Day couldn’t have been derivative entertaining hokum along the lines of Unknown except that everything here is hopeless. The main problem is a script which seems to have 20 or so minutes missing which is the only way of explaining why Cavill’s character is constantly running around and acting like a child who’s Christmas has been ruined. None of the other cast fare any better with terribly written roles that amount to little more than shouting or firing a gun randomly at something. Best of all none of the characters actions are based on any logical solution to anything that exists in the real world. There is no reason why Cavill reacts with suspicion when he approaches the authorities, not once does anyone give him any reason to doubt them in the first instance and yet he feels it necessary to run off and steal a police car. What makes it worse in some scenes later is Cavill is talking loudly on a mobile phone with several passengers about some sensitive material with the bad guys. If he is such a paranoid lunatic then why include this scene? It contradicts the first impressions we get of the character. The film is littered with things like this and after realising it doesn’t add up in the first twenty minutes you just stop caring. The action isn’t even well shot with some very questionable decisions on exactly where to place the camera and what details to focus on. Then it is edited into an incoherent sequence of scenes which seem to consist of endless chases with people firing guns out of car windows.
I think we all realise that Bruce Willis is now in his glazed over eyes Harrison Ford phase of his career where he just turns up wherever and smirks but his performance here (thankfully brief) is just plain bad and the worst thing he has done so far. The Spanish locations are very pretty so it’s obviously an easy gig for Willis but his wooden delivery is something of a revelation from the man who is usually reliable even in duds. Oh yeah and Sigourney Weaver turns up and becomes the villain but just looks embarrassed throughout the whole thing and doesn’t even play a gleeful baddie even when she is mowing down innocent bystanders with an Uzi.
The Cold Light of Day is one of the worst films to get a cinema release in quite a while and deserves to die an anonymous slow death on home video.