The Cold Light of Day marks the last movie of Superman-elect Henry Cavill’s career before he dons the red pants and golden ‘S’ in Zach Snyder’s reboot Man of Steel next summer. The 28-year-old Brit would have no doubt hoped for a better chance to show off his leading man chops than this inane Madrid-set thriller.
Cavill plays Wall Street trader Will Shaw who, in the script’s lame attempt to seem topical, has just seen his company go bankrupt in the recession. He arrives in Spain to meet up with his family and old issues begin to arise with cultural attaché dad Martin (Bruce Willis). After an argument during a boating trip (in which Martin hilariously launches his son’s phone into the ocean), Will swims back to shore. Upon his return, the family boat is empty and it soon emerges that Will’s family has been kidnapped and that dear old dad Martin is in fact a retired CIA agent.
Will has only a few hours to recover a mysterious briefcase or his family will meet some unspecified fate so he embarks on a mission of running and jumping through Madrid, uncovering the sexy Lucia (Veronica Echegui), and numerous shady espionage types including Sigourney Weaver’s Jean Carrack, a former colleague of Martin who wants whatever’s in the briefcase.
All that sounds like fairly standard spy hokum but unfortunately it’s even worse than that. After a big time twist towards the end of the first act, any intrigue in the plot is lost and you’re left with Cavill running around sunny Spain in an array of increasingly unimaginative set pieces, so devoid of any creativity that by the film’s ‘thrilling’ climax you’ll be struggling to stay awake.
Coming off the back of last year’s stunning but po-faced Immortals, Cavill has even less to work with here and although he is likeable enough in the early goings, he proves a bland screen presence seemingly content to let his jaw do the acting. The veterans in the cast are no better, Willis clearly turning up for a nice Spanish getaway and quick paycheque while Weaver trots out the same power-suited battleaxe that has become her go-to role these days.
The Cold Light of Day is such a boring, incomprehensible mess that it will almost certainly be remembered, if it’s to be remembered at all, as one of the year’s worst films. Mabrouk El Machri’s previous effort, 2008’s meta-actioner JCVD, was a fresh and interesting Euro-thriller but his direction here never gets any better than workmanlike. He isn’t completely to blame though, the main fault lying with Scott Wiper and John Petro’s muddled, inept script that they were surely making up as they went along.
It’s no surprise then that this film was hidden from critics ahead of its release, being dumped on the poor, unsuspecting public without any buffer. The only thing that is surprising here is that the film even made it into theatres at all, solely down to Willis’ presence in the cast no doubt, but the quality here would seem dire even for a direct to video release.