Review: The Cold Light of Day

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

While on vacation in Madrid, a troubled businessman’s family is kidnapped. Without getting any help from the American embassy, the young man must put together the pieces as to why his family was taken. The more he learns he finds that his father was not the man he thought he was. Thankfully, this business man is an expert driver, an incredible swimmer and he can seemingly get shot at with only a minor flesh wound… and he suffers all for the hope that his family is still alive. Too bad the audience has to suffer as well.

If you have iconic action star Bruce Willis in your espionage movie, why the f*ck would you give him nothing to do? That is one of the many questions that I had while watching the pedestrian thriller THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY. This story about a businessman who must rescue his family after they’ve been kidnapped is poorly shot with terrible pacing and worst of all, it is painfully boring.

We first meet our hero Will (Henry Cavill) as he has just gotten off a plane in Madrid and learned that his luggage never left San Francisco. Once there, he meets up with a man we come to find is his father Martin (Willis). It is clear from the beginning that Will is not terribly close to his dad, yet there is not one moment where you actually care. When they arrive at the family yacht, we are introduced to Will’s mom Laurie (Caroline Goodall), his brother Josh (Rafi Gavron) and his girlfriend Dara (Emma Hamilton) – or wife, either way it doesn’t matter. We then have to suffer through some painfully dull dialogue where we find that Will’s business has gone bankrupt so his family vacation will be short. With this family, I’d want it cut short as well.

The exposition is so tedious that you almost forget that there is supposed to be an action movie somewhere in here. It finally kicks in after Will swims to shore and returns to find everybody missing. Never mind how it got to that point as it is too bloody dim-witted as to why he left the boat in the first place. Either way, upon his return he finds that somebody is trying to kidnap/kill him as well. To call this feature “TAKEN light” would be an insult to your average TAKEN rip off. When Bruce Willis miraculously shows up again, he explains that he is a CIA agent and the kidnappers are terrorists demanding that he return a mysterious briefcase in order to save the wife, brother and girlfriend.

Throughout this feature, nearly every single action cliché is used, and used poorly at that. When he finds a possible connection to his father, Will discovers a local girl named Lucia (Verónica Echegui) who is conveniently ready to help out. The two are hunted down by one of his father’s associates Carrack (Sigourney Weaver) and her evil lapdog Gorman (Joseph Mawle) who may or may not be the bad guys. Twists and turns abound yet not a one is handled well. You can usually see each reveal well beforehand leaving out any sort of suspense. Albeit there is one minor surprise however most audiences will be able to figure it out pretty early on.

It is hard to place the blame on simply a bad script – credited to Scott Wiper and John Petro – as there is very little that works in this mess of a movie. Aside from a few attempts at an interesting shot here and there it ultimately feels disjointed. The first major action sequence takes place under a moonlight sky, yet it is so dark it feels like watching a bad 3D flick without the glasses. You can barely tell who is doing what to whom. This is a common problem throughout as it is much too dark during the action set pieces. In what should have been the climatic car chase sequence, there is not a shred of excitement to be found partially due to poor lighting. Add to that it is simply boring and stupid. At one point Sigourney Weaver growls, “I’m getting sick of this!” Well you aren’t the only one!

Speaking of Ms. Weaver, why is this talented actress wasting her time in dreck like this and last year’s incomprehensibly awful ABDUCTION – this film ranks slightly better thanks to Cavill. The actress literally seems to be sleepwalking right through both features, although even Sigourney Weaver sleepwalking through a film is better than many. And then there is Cavill who is at least putting in some effort. Sure he appears to be struggling a little with the accent, but it is clear that guy can handle a role like this. The level of talent here is just wasted on this clichéd and insipid thriller that is hardly better than your average VOD b-movie spy flick. If you are a Willis or Weaver completist then just wait until cable for this lifeless and uninspired waste.




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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.