Title: The Cold Light of Day
Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Starring: Henry Cavill (‘Man of Steel’), Bruce Willis, Signourney Weaver and Veronica Echegui (’6 Points About Emma’)
A desperate man frantically searching for his kidnapped family, who are taken by terrorists in a European country while on vacation, proved to be a surprising hit in 2009, with the Pierre Morel-directed action thriller ‘Taken.’ Making a film several years later, with a similar premise with such proven genre talents as Bruce Willis and Signourney Weaver, seemed destined to become an instant classic. But their new movie, ‘The Cold Light of Day,’ unfortunately failed to incorporate the continuous adrenaline and terror, or the well-developed, sympathetic characters, as the Liam Neeson-starring hit. ‘The Cold Light of Day’ had the potential to feature a suspenseful story and relatable characters alongside its memorable stunts, but unfortunately became distracted by its countless action sequences.
‘The Cold Light of Day’ follows Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) as he travels to Spain to meet his family, including his father, Martin (Bruce Willis); mother, Laurie (Caroline Goodall); brother, Josh (Rafi Gavron); and Josh’s girlfriend, Dara (Emma Hamilton), for vacation. Preoccupied by the fact that his business in San Francisco is going bankrupt, Will continuously checks his phone, instead of concentrating on his family and relaxing on their sailboat. Will decides to go into town to obtain supplies in order to relieve some of the tension, and when he returns to the boat, he discovers his family’s missing.
When Will reports his family missing to the police, he’s attacked by the officers and is unexpectedly rescued by Martin. After his father reveals that he’s really a CIA agent, the two are ambushed by Martin’s partner, Jean (Signourney Weaver), and her hitman, Gorman (Joseph Mawle). Will must then uncover his father’s mission and find the rest of his family before they’re killed by terrorists looking for a briefcase Martin recently took from them. Along the way, Will finds help from Lucia (Veronica Echegui), whose uncle worked with Martin, and the two set out to save his family.
French helmer Mabrouk El Mechri, who made his first true action thriller with ‘The Cold Light of Day,’ seemed heavily influenced by ‘Taken,’ which has the same theme of the main character doing whatever it takes to save and protect his family in a foreign country after they’re brutally kidnapped. Unfortunately, unlike the startling and gripping message and story in ‘Taken,’ the writers of ‘The Cold Light of Day,’ Scott Wiper and John Petro, penned an unclear plotline that lacked cohesiveness and logic. The two regularly introduce characters and story details without a proper introduction or explanation. For example, the first moments when Jean is introduced in the film, it’s not immediately made clear that is working with Martin as his CIA partner. When the two do meet after the Shaws are kidnapped, and then when she becomes relentless on stopping Will find his family, her true motivations are never fully explained.
Cavill, whose next major role is as the title character in next year’s anticipated superhero film ‘Man of Steel,’ unfortunately failed to keep up the true adrenaline-fueled action needed to properly anchor a high momentum thriller. While the actor at times showed the varying emotions Will needed in many scenes, including the pain of losing his family and desperation needed to guarantee their safe return, Cavill wasn’t able to carry them through during his action scenes. Whether it was tracking down, and defending himself from, the terrorists who have his family, or chasing Jean and Gorman to get the information he needs on his family’s whereabouts, Cavill is unable to sustain the anger or desperation driving him to save his mother and brother.
Despite Cavill disappointingly not being able to hold up his character’s emotions during the high-intensity action sequences, the car chases, gun fights and other stunts throughout the course of ‘The Cold Light of Day’ are impressive and attention-grabbing. Will and Lucia continuously defy gravity and aren’t afraid to put themselves in danger in order to avenge the deaths of their family members and the wrongs committed against them by the terrorists and the rogue CIA agents, such as Jean. One of the most impressive stunts in the film is when Will and Lucia are forced to jump off the roof of an apartment building after meeting with Jean and Gorman, in order to avoid being shot. Will resorts to tying cable wire around them both to lower themselves to the ground, and the two just narrowly make it safely to the ground.
Despite ‘The Cold Light of Day’ featuring such action veterans as Willis and Weaver, and featuring a daring, high-speed plot reminiscent of the hit crime drama ‘Taken,’ the thriller unfortunately fails to feature an organized, understandable plotline. El Mechri, along with writers Wiper and Petro, regularly introduced unpredictable, illogical characters, relationships and plot details that made a seemingly straightforward story confusing. Paired with Cavill disappointingly not holding up his character’s all important emotions throughout the entire film, the only saving grace of ‘The Cold Light of Day’ was the explosive, impressive stunts. The thriller could have benefited by following the cues of ‘Taken’ by interlacing well-developed characters, memorable performances and a mesmerizing story with its impressive stunts.
Written by: Karen Benardello