Why do American’s come to Europe? According to films, you or members of your family are bound to get kidnapped. Movies such as Taken or Frantic show Paris to be not the capital of love but the capital of the sex trade and international terrorists. Indeed, on Yahoo Answers, American girls have actually asked whether they are likely to get kidnapped in countries such as France and Germany. And now with The Cold Light of Day, worried families can tick Madrid off their list of holiday destinations.
The Cold Light of Day tries its hardest to be Taken but fails. It tells the story of Will, played by Henry Cavill, who has come to Spain to see his family but, wouldn’t you know it, within a day they are kidnapped. Will avoids this as does his father, played by Bruce Willis, who turns out to be a spy. The story eventually boils down to; get the mysterious briefcase or you’ll never see your family again. It is remarkably tiresome.
No one stands out in the film. Cavill is hard to root for. Willis mails in his performance and Sigorney Weaver, as a secret agent who is as unstoppable as the Terminator, is unintentionally funny. This is the closest all three have come to a direct to DVD movie. At least this year Willis had the superb Moonrise Kingdom to balance it and Weaver had the marvellous Cabin in the Woods. Cavill unfortunately needs Man of Steel to be bloody brilliant to make up for the Immortals and now this.
I was looking forward to this film for two reasons; the first being the director, Mabrouk El Mechi, whose last film JCVD was really rather good (and showed how Jean-Claude Van Damme was capable of being a terrific actor). The other reason was because of its setting; Madrid. I have spent a lot of time there and find it a wonderful place and very few films take advantage of its spectacular scenery and culture. In the Light of Day could have been set anywhere in Europe. It is shot close and unimaginatively so you never get a proper sense of the city.
To give it its dues, there are one or two good sequences and it was watchable… but only just. In the Cold Light of Day is not a good film and while the end hints at a possible sequel, I wouldn’t count on there being one.