Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) arrives in Spain for a weeklong sailing vacation with his family, despite having a strained relationship with his disciplinarian father Martin (Bruce Willis). The situation takes an unexpected and violent turn when his family is kidnapped by intelligence agents. Will's world turns upside down as he gets tangled in an intergovernmental web of lies and secrets, with a briefcase in the center of the mystery. Will finds himself on the run and realizes that he must recover the briefcase and take down secret agents in order to get his family back alive.
The Cold Light of Day
is most notable for two things. It stars Henry Cavill, the British actor plucked from near-obscurity to be Superman in the 2013 reboot, Man of Steel
. It also features an extended cameo appearance from Bruce Willis, who does something he's rarely done as a good-guy action hero before. The early-on plot twist is a little shocking, but not necessarily a surprise based on the fact that this is not a vehicle for Willis. It seems to be mostly a tryout for Cavill as a leading man that gives him a chance to practice his American accent. Other than those novelty factors, this clichéd thriller is a fairly routine exercise in Bourne/Bond espionage action that showcases gunplay, explosions, double-crossing spies, and a fish-out-of-water protagonist fighting for his life against exotic background locales. Cavill plays Will, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur on vacation with his family for a yacht trip in Spain. His father, Martin (Willis), considers Will a disappointing black sheep who cares more about his cell phone than his family. The unsurprising reveal is that Dad is a CIA hotshot whose life of deception was the primary strain between father and son. Before the inevitable reconciliation, the boat and the family disappear while Will is ashore. It's a kidnapping in retaliation for Martin's extraction of a mysterious briefcase (the contents of which are never revealed) that is wanted by battling geopolitical intelligence factions perfectly happy to kill anyone who stands in the way of their ownership. Will is thrust into the intrigue, frantic with worry over his family and on the run from the authorities for the murder of a police officer he didn't kill. His appeal to the US Embassy is fruitless until another shadowy player named Carrack intervenes on his behalf. This cold and ultimately duplicitous character is played by Sigourney Weaver, who adds a much-needed level of credibility to the slapdash narrative and makes the often-wooden dialogue a little livelier. The conflict becomes: who can Will trust when he's out in the cold? How about a guileless Spanish beauty who appears as randomly as most every other development in the movie? Lucia (Verónica Echegui, a delightful Penélope Cruz clone) teams with Will in his escape from the multitude of thug spies tracking him, all of them bent on finding the briefcase by any means necessary. Will has to get there first to clear himself, save his family (or what's left of it), and find out things about himself he never knew. Cavill makes a bland heroic figure, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in the larger context. Without Willis and Weaver (who has been channeling the elegant strength of "Ripley" primarily for camp value in her later career), The Cold Light of Day
probably wouldn't have seen the light of day at all. As it is, the movie is a mostly satisfying genre piece perfectly worthy of its workmanlike mix of style and substance. --Ted Fry