The Cold Light of Day

“The Cold Light of Day” is the “story” of a young man whose family is kidnapped while on a sailing holiday. While he is briefly separated from them, their family sailboat is boarded and his mother, brother and brother’s girlfriend are taken. Eventually he discovers that his father (Bruce Willis) is a CIA agent, and that the family is being used as pawns in an international espionage battle over a mysterious briefcase.

Unfortunately, the brief plot description above is deeper than the shooting script the production worked off of. “The Cold Light of Day” is one of those generic, nondescript action films that give action movies a bad name.

Our future Superman Henry Cavill stars as Will Shaw, who has flown into Spain to spend a week sailing with his family. He has a distant relationship with them, and seems more concerned for his failing business at home. In fact, he threatens to leave early. After his father (Bruce Willis) conveniently angrily throws his cell phone into the sea, Will decides to swim to shore and into town and make a phone call there, instead. When he’s finished, he finds the boat has moved, and his family has been kidnapped. He goes to the authorities, but quickly figures out that they’re somehow involved… With no one to turn to and no one he can trust, Will is on the run, trying to figure out how to find and save his family.

And he’s basically on the run for the entire movie. In fact, there’s so much running and jumping and car chasing that it has the opposite of the intended effect. All that action should be kinetic and exciting, but with such an overabundance of it, the film winds up feeling inert. It doesn’t help that the movie is saddled with terrible direction (thanks go to Mabrouk El Mechri of JCVD fame) and hyper-active editing that results in the action sequences being chopped to such shreds as to be visually unintelligible. I mean, if you’re going to have a movie that’s 95% action, it should at least be decent action, right?

It’s not, here. It’s crap.

Unfortunately the film has nothing else to offer aside from this excess of poorly done, cliché addled, ADD action sequences. By the time Sigourney Weaver’s “Who’s side is she on?” CIA heavy shows up, you probably already won’t care. Which is fine, she mails it in anyways. There was no character establishment for Cavill’s character, Willis’ character, or any of the characters… There’s also no plot. Spy movies should be elaborate games of chess. This one is barely even checkers. His family was taken in order to force the return of a “briefcase”. Ok, so it actually IS a briefcase, but I thought it deserved to be put it in quotes because we’re never actually told what’s so important about it. What’s IN it. Seriously. I think that’s because that would have required the screenwriters to think, and no one wants them to hurt themselves over this.

I’m even going to rag on the score. I’m telling you, this movie sucked that bad. I’m relatively certain that I can download some kind of music software somewhere, take two weeks (with no prior experience) and come up with a comparable score. The music here is as bland and nondescript as one could possibly hope for. I challenge anyone to go into the film, focus on the music, and be able to hum two bars ten minutes after leaving the theatre.

What we’re left here is a horrifying waste of time. It’s one continuous, generic chase scene for a poorly explained reason, featuring an ill-defined character, all set to bland, forgettable music.

Don’t bother.


37 thoughts on “The Cold Light of Day

    • Nope. It wasn’t “Crap-Tastic” or I would have “Split the grade”… I’m sure you’ve seen those here. Like, say, Battleship, which I believe I gave an F/B. LOL

      This just plain old sucked Brad, buddy. Dont bother…. spare yourself. LOL

    • True. Actually.

      Went to the “Big” showtime. Opening night, Friday, as close to 8:00 as possible. Should be the most crowded showing a movie will have during its run.

      Less than ten people. Totally empty almost.

      Which is good, I usually dont wish failure on movies, but this one sucked…

  1. Welcome to the “murky” light of day. For maybe 60% of the movie I retained a certain interest level. After all nothing is explained, everything hangs in the balance, there is hope. But then there is the F’N MacGuffin briefcase. Even before the briefcase appears, there’s Jason Bourne-ness action to endure. I say endure because what kind of action figure has to stop and consider his action, like a long, long look before jumping off a roof! After the bad guys have turned out to be the good guys, and the good bad, all the crowd centered around the briefcase seems to have what they want. At least Will can walk(run) away feeling his family has been saved. But this is where it really gets bad! The film turns to mayhem and madness and Will is spurring the insanity!
    There weren’t any critic’s screenings for this. I wonder why? I’d give it a D only cause they did seem to have put some money in the production. It didn’t look made for TV. TV is never this bad!

    • The closest I came to thinking about giving it a D instead of an F was that 10-15 sequence where they’re jumping off the roof… which, admittedly, was well done. Outside of that, I was in pain the entire time.

      I’d almost call the Jason Bourne-LESS action. LOL!!

      I hated that they never explained the MaGuffin, too. Just makes the movie entirely meaningless. They could have just been chasing a football or something, what’s the difference? Ooooh The “BRIEFCASE” oooooh. Give me a break.

      I felt like I HAD to review this, this is what I do. What was your excuse? Willis/Weaver?

      • Well you did have it on your fall preview post. But even then you gave it a question mark. Good call. How many more does Willis have this fall? seems like a lot!

      • All I can say is that I hope this isn’t a precursor to Willis in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, because that would make me all the more sad at the already semi-high likelihood of getting 2 horrible G.I. Joe movies.

        With regard to Man of Steel, I really hope some decent footage or a better trailer become available for those of me that couldn’t afford to be at SDCC. Because what I’ve seen so far doesn’t impress me, current review notwithstanding.

      • They didnt show much at SDCC that hasn’t been released… I havr to say, I was unimpressed with what “Man of Steel” brought. Probably my most disappointing panel of 2012. Definitely, actually.

        LOL, though. You dont think Bruce Willis is going to be awesome in GI Joe 2 or anything, do you? I smell a collect-a-check job there too. Sorry to say

      • I have no illusions about Joe 2 being just another paycheck for Willis. My hope was that he would be at least willing to make it look like he wasn’t entirely phoning it is.

        If what we’ve seen so far is any indication, I am not at all impressed with Man of Steel. I’ll likely see it, hell I saw Green Lantern, but I’m not expecting much.

  2. Great review as always man…especially like the cut-ins of the actors (the Cavill one made me laugh harder than it should have).

    As for the movie itself…calling it bad seems like you’re giving the movie too much credit. I don’t think the filmmakers or anyone involved cared one iota about the film except “When does my paycheck arrive?” I mean Cavill was at least halfway mediocre so I guess that’s a positive but otherwise it was like going to the bathroom: You know what’s going to happen, it happens and it stinks.

    Oh and on a related note: he is the worst spy ever…of all time…ever.

    • HAHA!! He was pretty bad, wasn’t he?

      It’s funny you mention the paycheck thing, Travis, my alternate “gag” idea for this was to do up a couple of mock checks for Weaver and Willis and put things like “surrender of pride” and “showing up on time” in the memo fields.

      Yeah, this movie stunk like rancid meat… nothing redeeming. Total waste. Glad you enjoyed the review though 😀

  3. Pingback: Hit or Miss! Worst Weekend, “Master”-ful Loser and a Cold Review « "Em" is for Movies

  4. Another film with potential that completely fails to live up to it in any way, huh? Willis and Weaver in a spy movie should be great. But it sounds like they were well aware they were in a stinker. Love the photos, by the way. 😀

    • Heh. This one was so bad I had to try to make a joke out of it somehow. 😀

      This barely qualifies as a “Spy Movie”. The script is such a joke that I have trouble crediting it with being anything other than a crappy action flick.

      Willis and Weaver doing a spy movie together DOES sound good. If they ever do one, I’ll forgive them for this aberration and check that out. LOL

  5. I’ve read a few reviews of this one today and they’ve all been negative. It isn’t surprising the film performance so poorly at the box office. I’ll give this one a wide berth!

  6. I love a good action film. Even a meaningless action film because, sometimes, you just want to watch chases and explosions and fights. Or maybe I have a tendency for violence that I’ve supressed because I was told girls are not supposed to be violent. Who knows?

    But one thing I hate is random, unexplained elements. Sounds like the ‘briefcase’ is one of those.

    The other thing I hate, and I mean really hate, is chopped up, mashed up action scenes that are so short and impossibly fast that I can’t track them on screen. I know this became a cinemagraphic style a while back. I never understood why. The first time I ever saw it I was under the impression that the fight scene choreographer was just so bad that they did it to save the footage and not reshoot. So that is what I think EVERY time I see it. Bad shooting, bad directing, bad choreography.

    I have noticed a few films have started to pull away from that now. I hope everyone does. If I can’t actually ‘watch’ the action, what is the point of going to a movie? I can read a fight scene in a book and get a better picture of what is happeneing.

  7. Oh, I forgot to mention, it sounds rather like that Denzel and Willis film in which there was no character developement and you end up disliking all the main characters so much that you don’t care what happens. Because of that, you never invest yourself emotionally into the film and walk away withing you had your two hours and your money back. What was that called? The one where martial law gets declaired and any one that looked or had a name that sounded middle eastern got rounded up. That piece of crap.

    • The Siege. LOL.

      Yeah, not a great movie, by any means.

      You’re in toruble with this one then Urbannight. 😀 I mean, listen, its not just you, LOL… no one is in for a good time with this one. But a) if you dont like loose ends, you’d HATE the MaGuffin here. It’s literally completely unexplained. Meaningless. b) If you dont like quick cut action, you’re in trouble too, because that’s all this movie has to offer!!

      It was terrible. I hated it. It’s at 8% on Rotten Tomatoes… I couldnt recommend you see it, so… I’d totally skip it.

      And this is coming from someone who loves action films too. A lot of times the dumb pointless ones, too, just like you said 😉

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