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I’m a huge fan of the action/spy genres. I love the witty repartee of the Bond films, the fiercely choreographed fights of the Bourne series and the cocksure arrogance that makes John McClane (Bruce Willis) such an exciting protagonist in the original Die Hard. However, The Cold Light of Day proves that having Bruce Willis in an action flick is no guarantee for success.
The Cold Light of Day begins with Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) spending time with his family on a sailboat on a Spanish coastline. Shaw conveniently needs to take a trip into town, and upon his return, he finds his family has been captured by some unknown entity. He quickly flees to the police, who come back to the scene of the crime with him to find an Israeli terrorist (talk about your vague, cliché villains), who tells Shaw he will get his family back when a certain briefcase has been returned to him safely. The contents of this briefcase, that the Israeli terrorists and CIA both seem to want desperately, are never revealed to the audience. The most specific thing said about the all-important briefcase throughout the whole movie was that it contained items ‘vital’ to the Israeli terrorists. They could have tried to be more vague, but it would have been difficult.
The terrorist offers to take Shaw to his family, but, sensing danger, Shaw chooses to try to get away by stealing a police car instead. A quick, poorly edited car chase (which is the only kind of car chase you’ll find in this movie) takes place, ending with Shaw running the police car into a tree. Shaw’s father, Martin (Bruce Willis), shows up out of nowhere, and the two escape together. Martin reveals that he is actually a CIA agent, contrary to what he has told Shaw his whole life (wow, what a plot twist!). Shaw and Martin go to meet Martin’s fellow agent, Carrack (Sigourney Weaver), who apparently does not have the mysterious briefcase anymore, but she needs it back badly. A sniper shoots Martin down, and this movie is now guilty of using Bruce Willis as a headliner when he’s only in the first twenty minutes.
Shaw runs to the American Embassy, where they refuse to help him because he’s supposedly wanted for the death of a police officer that got shot down in an earlier scene – a plot point that has a few believability issues. Carrack offers to help Shaw get his family back if he will help her get the briefcase so Shaw gets into her car. However, Shaw decides he doesn’t trust Carrack so he pretends that he is going to throw up, a disgustingly simple ruse that works on Carrack. Carrack then becomes the most disinterested villain that has ever existed when she watches Shaw run away and basically says, “Eh…we’ll get him next time.” Though I can’t blame her, I was finding it hard to care too.
Shaw then attempts to find Diego, a contact he is led to by looking through his father’s cell phone. Shaw arrives at Diego’s office, and, for some reason, Diego bursts in and starts fighting Shaw. The fight was painful to watch, but not because I was sympathizing with the characters’ pain, more so because I knew I had to sit through another hour of this movie. During the fight, Lucia (Veronica Echegui), who works in the office, is off to the side screaming, fading between English and Spanish. Echegui was the saving grace of this movie. Echegui’s performance was admirable considering the poor dialogue she had to suffer through. I preferred the scenes where she was yelling in Spanish and I couldn’t understand her simply because she wasn’t weighed down by the painfully dull and predictable dialogue. Her performance contrasted heavily with Cavill’s, who also suffered from the poor dialogue, but, unlike Echegui, failed to rise above it as an actor.
Spoiler alert! Lucia turns out to be Shaw’s half-sister, Martin’s illegitimate daughter, so don’t depend on any sultry Bond-style romance to carry this film. I would recommend not wasting your money on this movie since enough money was wasted in its production.