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The Cold Light Of Day

2012-11-27 16:23
 
A competent, not entirely dreadful action film in which stars such as Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver seem happy enough bringing their C-game.
The Cold Light Of Day
What it's about:

A young businessman (Henry Cavill), his company on the brink of bankruptcy, goes on vacation with his family in Spain. When they are kidnapped, he has to go on the run to save his family while also discovering some uncomfortable truths about his father (Bruce Willis) along the way.

What we thought:

There's an action setpiece midway through The Cold Light of Day that involves a great deal of running, gunning and shouting. Henry Cavill is trying to escape being shot at by the bad guy and he is tearing through the streets of Madrid with said bad guy hot on his heels. It was at some point during this scene that I discovered that a piece of popcorn had caught in my teeth. No matter how much I worked at it, I couldn't spring it loose, and believe me, I put in some effort.

Meanwhile, Henry Cavill was shouting at a policeman and the policeman responded in a torrent of Spanish. Then there was more shooting and running. Whatever, I went back to trying to pry the popcorn from its place and despite Henry Cavill's best efforts at shouting and running, the popcorn proved far more interesting.

This should tell you all you need to know about The Cold Light of Day. Competently put together, plenty of incident, a fair share of drama and despite all that, a thoroughly uninvolving film.

Henry Cavill plays Will Shaw, a businessman who, judging by his physique, must surely spend more time at the gym than he does at the office. I don't have a degree in business but I do know that if you have the body of a gold-medal Olympic swimmer and your company is close to bankruptcy, the state of the economy might not be entirely to blame (fans anticipating next year's Man of Steel will be happy to know that the Superman-to-be certainly looks as if he can convincingly leap tall buildings in a single bound).

Anyway, Shaw visits his family (mum, dad, brother and brother's girlfriend in tow) in Spain. His dad is played by Bruce Willis, so it's not likely that this will be a family retreat involving bonding and opening up about your feelings. As it turns out, this is a family retreat involving dinner under the stars on the family boat, taking the boat out on the ocean the following day, swimming in the deep blue waters of Madrid and then later that afternoon, kidnapping.

After visiting town, Shaw returns to the boat and finds his family missing. When the bad guys catch up to him, his dad comes to his rescue and after watching his dad beat seven shades out of the nameless minions, Shaw learns that his father, who he believed worked as tour organiser, is actually an agent in the CIA. It soon falls to the younger Shaw to figure out what is going on so that he can rescue his family.

This is a film happily that takes bits and bobs from others that have come before it. The Spy Keeping His Real Job A Secret From His Family was used most memorably in James Cameron's True Lies and The Wrong Man On The Run was a favourite of Hitchcock's. Cribbing notes from other sources is hardly a crime but when it's put together with so little imagination of its own, that can be a bit grating. It's odd too that Cavill, whose character spends most of the film well out of his depth, towards the end suddenly develops the action hero muscles of someone who is not just a suit.

This is not an entirely dreadful film. There are fleeting moments with some imagination and flair. Director Mabrouk El Mechri shows a facility for interesting camera angles and nice touches that do add something to the film. Still, it doesn't help that he makes use of the awful shaky-cam, frenetic editing technique for his action scenes, an approach that obscures the action more that it involves us.

And the less said about the acting, the better. None of the players here, from Cavill to Willis to Sigourney Weaver seem to be bringing anything above their C-game, while Caroline Goodall seems to have been rather thanklessly cast as Cavill's mum, a role that offers nothing and goes nowhere.

Is this film worth spending your money on for a night at the movies? No. Should you do so anyway, make sure to get the popcorn. With any luck, you'll get a piece firmly lodged in your teeth. It's incredibly satisfying when you finally manage to dislodge the offending bit of popcorn. Certainly more satisfying than this film.

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2014-04-11 09:36

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(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
Ryan Heuvel 11/20/2012 1:02 PM
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Funniest review I've read in a while, but c'mon Justin - it can't be THAT bad surely?
Ryan Heuvel 11/20/2012 1:02 PM
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Funniest review I've read in a while, but c'mon Justin - it can't be THAT bad surely?
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