Review: The Cold Light of Day (2012)

Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver star in Mabrouk El Mechri's action-thriller The Cold Light of Day.

Our Clark Kent, Henry Cavill, goes all superhero in this action-thriller set in Spain and co-starring veterans Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver in their first on-screen collaboration together. Unfortunately the combined might of Superman, McClane and Ripley cannot save this poorly-titled turkey.

Will (Henry Cavill) is holidaying with his family in Spain, headed by dad Martin (Bruce Willis), his mum, little brother (Brit Ravi GafronBreaking and Entering) and his girlfriend. He clearly doesn’t get along with his dad and with his company going under back in the States, it’s all a little tense on board the yacht of the family gathering. When a heated confrontation with his dad ends up with him having to leave for a short time to go the mainland, he returns to find the vessel mysteriously empty.

From here it comes to light that good ol’ Bruce is really a CIA agent and that some dodgy dealings involving his partner Carrack (Sigourney Weaver) means that his family are now kidnapped and it’s up to Will to save them across various Spanish locations.

What is essentially his final lead role before his big stint as the Man of Steel, Cavill does his best to carry the film but, with a dodgy American accent in tow, he doesn’t inspire much and struggles in doing so. This is further highlighted by the brief role Bruce Willis has – acting with practically his eyes closed – who exits the film disappointingly and in a somewhat missed opportunity to go out with a bang.

Director Mabrouk El Mechri (JVCD) attempts to give the film a certain type of European flair and, clearly influenced by Hitchcock, uses certain lingering close-up shots – car side mirrors, phones ringing – to heighten the suspense. Unfortunately, any credibility this style had is completely negated by its first use where we see Will drinking a Coca-cola can. Product placement is part and parcel of cinema but in this case it leaves a bad taste in the mouth – and a certain amount of integrity compromised.

That aside, there are two things that save the film. Well, two actresses to be precise. Spanish star Verónica Echegui gives the film a bit of spark (despite being reduced to a screaming damsel at certain points), and the ever-superb Sigourney Weaver. Even though she’s phoning in her performance from a recent glut of bad guy roles, she still plays the villain perfectly, visibly revelling in her cold demeanour and delightful cackle.

But with the film centred on Cavill’s desperation to get to his family, these positives are few and far between. Even his transformation from cowardly son to Superman-esque invincibility seems a little off, particularly as the twist and turns leading him to become an adept hero make little sense.

The Cold Light of Day is Hollywood mutton dressed in European lamb, but Weaver’s turn and a few decent action set-pieces means that this is just about watchable in the right time of day.

Discussion feed

Up next in movies