When a film is not given an advance screening to critics, you know you’re probably in for some trouble – more often than not, it indicates a film that the studio is not happy
with, and one which they know will be sunk by negative reviews prior to release.
With that in mind, it goes almost without saying that The Cold Light of Day is a shockingly inept thriller, and acts as little more than an extended showreel for our new ‘Man of Steel’, British actor Henry Cavill (he plays Superman in next year’s franchise reboot).
Here, Cavill plays Will Shaw, a budding Wall Street trader who reluctantly takes a week away to visit his family in Spain; his mother, father (Bruce Willis), brother and brother’s girlfriend. Before long, his family is missing, and Will is thrust into the middle of an international conspiracy as he tries to track them down.
But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the opening scenes – this is a film so bad that the specious preamble is by far the most interesting component; the locales make for pleasant viewing, and the verbal sparring between Cavill and Willis is potent and convincing.
Once the first act passes, Cavill is brought front and centre, but we are not given enough reason to care about his bland character, or get behind his derivative cause.
Cavill’s physical prowess and chiseled good looks are well portrayed, but like everyone else, involved, he doesn’t seem to know what to do with the painfully rote script.
In the picture’s latter half, soap opera drama and “shocking” revelations ensue, but when they’re not achingly predictable, they’re laughable, and the fact that Cavill can deliver it all with a straight face suggest there may be some shred of talent beneath the biceps after all.
By the third act, it becomes abundantly clear that everyone is just in it for the payday; Bruce Willis comes across as mostly sedated in his surprisingly short screen time. Cavill, however, goes the other way, opting for a distracting, over-enthusiastic approach.
Sigourney Weaver, playing a shady operative, yells out “You f**cking amateur!” at Cavill in the film’s climax, though it could just as easily have been director Mabrouk el Mechri at the business end of a furious out-take.
At least it’s only 94 minutes long, but the fact that it was made at all is an embarrassment for all involved.