By Michael Arruda

(The Scene: A beautiful beach off the coast of Madrid, Spain.  An abandoned boat floats on the water offshore.  MICHAEL ARRUDA searches the boat frantically.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  L.L.?  Where are you?  Guys!  Where are you all hiding?

(STRANGE MAN appears out of nowhere.)

MAN:  They’re not hiding.  They’re with us.

MA: Who the hell are you?

MAN:  Come with me.  There’s someone you need to speak with.

MA:  No, I need to speak with L.L. Soares and the rest of the Cinema Knife Fight staff who are on this trip.

MAN:  They’re with us.  The person who wants to speak with you will explain.

MA: It sounds like I don’t have a choice.  Lead the way, then.

(CUT to a busy street in Madrid.  MAN leads MA to a parked car with tinted windows.  The back window slides down to reveal SIGOURNEY WEAVER in the back seat.)

WEAVER:  Hello, Michael.  I need to talk to you.  Don’t worry.  It’s safe.

(MA peers into the back seat and sees the monster from ALIEN sitting next to WEAVER.  The ALIEN hisses at him.)

MA:  Something tells me this is a bad idea.  (Pushes MAN away from him and flees through the busy streets.)  Gee, things are playing out here a lot like today’s movie, THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (2012).  (A beautiful Spanish babe on a motorcycle whistles to MA.)

BABE:  Quick!  Get on!

(MA runs to motorcycle.  BABE laughs and drives away just before he gets there.)

MA (to camera):  Well, almost like today’s movie.  (Quickly ducks into a dance club.)  I’ll hide out here for a while, which will give me a chance to review today’s film, THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (2012),the new thriller starring Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, and Henry Cavill.

(Sits at table in corner.)

There were three main reasons I was interested in seeing THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY, a movie whose trailer didn’t do much for me.  Sigourney Weaver was playing the villain, I like Bruce Willis and enjoy most movies he’s in, and I wanted to check out the performance by Henry Cavill, who’s slated to be the next big screen Superman in MAN OF STEEL (2013).

As I said, the film’s trailer did little for me, and that’s because it revealed a rather straightforward story about a young man whose family is kidnapped while on vacation because his dad is secretly working for the CIA and is obviously involved with some pretty bad people.  It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and it also gave away a lot of the movie’s plot, so a big question I had going in was, would this movie have enough surprises left to make it worth my while?  And the answer is, “not really.”

The movie opens with a young man, Will (Henry Cavill), arriving in Madrid, Spain to spend a week long vacation with his parents and his younger brother and his younger brother’s girlfriend.  Will is not having a good week.  The company he runs is going bankrupt, and it seems he has a rocky relationship with his dad Martin (Bruce Willis), and so it’s not exactly a relaxing vacation for him.

Distracted by his problems, he allows their boat to be rocked by the wind, resulting in a head injury to his brother’s girlfriend.  Will is immediately chewed out by his dad, who promptly tosses his son’s cell phone overboard, since it’s been ringing nonstop with news of Will’s troubled company.  Enraged, Will decides to leave the boat and go into town.

When he returns later in the day, he finds the boat abandoned and his family nowhere to be found.   He reports the situation to the police, and they lead him to a man who tries to abduct him.  Will is rescued by his dad, who explains to him that he’s really not a business consultant but an agent for the CIA, and that a group of terrorists have kidnapped their family and is holding them ransom unless he gives them back a briefcase he stole from them.

Martin tells Will they need to see a friend of his, and Will witnesses a meeting between his dad and a woman Carrack (Sigourney Weaver.)  Martin accuses Carrack of setting him up, a notion that Carrack obviously denies.  The meeting ends badly as Martin is shot dead, leaving Will alone to solve the mystery of the missing briefcase and save his family.

And he has to do this while being pursued by two different parties: the group that is holding his family hostage and who want the briefcase back, and Carrack and her cronies, who would like to “silence” everyone involved in order to tie up any loose ends and save their agency embarrassment.  Along the way, Will befriends a young woman, Lucia (Veronica Echegui), who also has a personal interest in getting back at Carrack, as she reveals a telling secret about her relationship with Will’s father.

The rest of the movie plays out like one of the BOURNE movies, only not as good, mostly because Will is no Jason Bourne.

MATT DAMON (leaning over from next table):  That’s right.  He’s not Jason Bourne.  I am, and there’s only one Jason Bourne.

JEREMY RENNER (leans in from opposite table):   I don’t know about that.  My new movie THE BOURNE LEGACY (2012) is doing pretty well at the box office.

DAMON:  True, but you don’t play Jason Bourne in the movie.

RENNER:  True, but you’re not in the movie, and it’s still doing well.  Hey, maybe you and I could both be the next one.

DAMON:  Talk to my agent.

MA:  It’s getting too crowded in here.  (MA gets up and moves to the bar.)

Where was I?

BARTENDER:  You were comparing Will to Jason Bourne.

MA:  Thanks.  Hey, how did you know that?

BARTENDER:  I’m a bartender.  We know everything.

MA: I’ll have to remember that.

So, Will’s an amateur, not a super assassin, and so his scenes simply don’t generate a whole lot of interest.   The movie would have been better off had it played up the angle of the ordinary guy against the professionals, a la an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but Will uses his wits less than he uses a gun, and so it’s simply not as compelling as it could have been.

Sigourney Weaver makes for an okay villain here, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.  I thought her character was rather subdued, and Weaver turned in a far more villainous portrayal in her brief scenes in THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) earlier this year.  Cate Blanchett was more impressive as the main baddie in last year’s HANNA (2011).  Actually, the entire movie HANNA was more impressive than THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY.  It had a style about it that was riveting and made an impact.  THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY lacks this style.

Bruce Willis is very good as Martin, the dad living the double life as a CIA agent, but the trouble is, he’s not in the movie all that much, as his character is killed off early on.

Henry Cavill runs hot and cold as Will.  I definitely liked him at the beginning of the movie in his scenes with Bruce Willis.  There was a natural father/son tension between them that worked well and was interesting.  Later, when Will becomes Jason Bourne-like—-.

MATT DAMON (calling from table):  Hey!  I’m Jason Bourne!  (Points to Renner)  Not him!  And not the guy in your movie!

MA (smiles and waves):  Whatever you say, buddy.  I’d better not say that name again.

Will’s not as interesting because he’s not Jason—you know who—but just an ordinary guy thrown into some extraordinary circumstances, yet he’s running around shooting people and acting like he’s been doing it for years.

The rest of the cast is simply serviceable, although I did really enjoy Veronica Echegui as Lucia.  I almost would have preferred the story better had it been told from her perspective.

Simply put, I just wasn’t that impressed with the story in this one.  Scott Wiper and John Petro wrote the screenplay for THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY, and it’s all rather mediocre.

One of the reasons it’s not that powerful a movie is there’s not much of a threat.  We know very little about the people holding Will’s family hostage for the most of the movie.  At first, they’re described as terrorists, but later we learn they’re not terrorists, but Israeli agents who have been wronged by Carrack.

Sigourney Weaver’s Carrack and her cronies are the ones who knocked off Will’s father, but we don’t see them doing much during the rest of the movie, other than remain two steps behind Will, which is hard to believe since Will’s not a spy.  Overall, the threats in this movie are too obscure, and there isn’t one main master villain who’s driving this thing along.

I had hoped that Sigourney Weaver would be this villain, but she’s not.  Plus, her character Carrack is supposed to be this top CIA agent, and yet she’s out on the streets in plain sight shooting at Will and other people in broad daylight.  So much for being covert!

And the plot point involving Lucia’s relationship with Martin is right out of a bad soap opera!

WOMAN next to MA:  And so, Lloyd, I can’t marry you because I slept with your father which makes me— your mother!

LLOYD:  And I can’t marry you, Linda, because I slept with your mother which makes me— your father!

LINDA:  How is that possible?

LLOYD:  Well, your mother’s a good looking woman, we had a few drinks, and one thing led to another—.

LINDA:  No, that’s not what I meant.

MA:  It’s too crowded at the bar, too.  I think I’ll try the dance floor.

(Dances while he continues the review)

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY is simply not as intense as it needs to be.  Director Mabrouk El Mechri includes plenty of shoot-outs and chase scenes, but at the end of the day, this one is lacking something.

One of the more intense scenes involves Lucia’s efforts, with the help of some of her friends, to remove a bullet from Will’s gut, but it’s discovered in the middle of the crude procedure, that he doesn’t have a bullet in him, so they’re spared the rest of the operation.  So, even the most intense scene in the film isn’t as intense as it could have been!

There is a neat chase scene where Will and Lucia have to escape from a roof while being shot at, and it’s one of the more riveting scenes in the movie.  The rest of the action scenes are pretty standard.

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY isn’t bad, but it’s not very good either.  As I said, it just seems to be lacking something.  Most of the time that “something” is a plausible story.  Perhaps more Bruce Willis would have helped.

I give it two knives.

(Someone taps him on the shoulder.  It’s SIGOURNEY WEAVER and the ALIEN.)

WEAVER:  Do you mind if I cut in?

MA:  Why don’t you two dance, and I’ll cut out!  Okay, folks, until next time, have fun at the movies!  (EXITS)
WEAVER:  Wait!  (turns to ALIEN)  Oh well.  I guess we’ll never take that group photo now.

(ALIEN shakes his head)

WEAVER:  Shall we dance after all?

(ALIEN and WEAVER slow dance, as camera fades to black.)

VOICE:  Hey, it’s Jeremy Renner, the new Bourne!

DAMON:  Damn it!  I’m Jason Bourne!


© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY ~ two knives!


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