Shot two years ago and sitting on a shelf ever since, The Cold Light of Day is one of those lousy multinational productions usually cobbled together from some Israeli dry-cleaner’s fun-money hoping for a quick buck on the direct-to-video circuit, with a couple of big stars in small roles to goose the proceeds. It was called Shadow Chaser when it played in Japan a while back. Neither title makes any sense.
We’ve got Henry Cavill, who is playing Superman next year, as an awkward, recently bankrupted brat on an ill-fated family vacation in Spain with his bulldog Dad (Bruce Willis) and a lot of unpleasantly expository dialogue. More sooner than later, the rest of his family is taken hostage, and Willis exits the picture on the lookout for the nearest check-cashing place. It seems there have been some CIA shenanigans, and something to do with angry Mossad agents. Mostly this all leads to Cavill’s hapless banker dude jumping off buildings, taking bullets and discovering his inner Jason Bourne, adrift in a foreign country where he doesn’t know the language, probably because it provided the production with the most appetizing tax shelter. Sigourney Weaver slums it in style, at one point even busting out an Uzi as Willis’ untrustworthy ex-partner in crime. (How much I would have wished to see a movie just about those two.) Cavill’s accent fluctuates hilariously from something approximating American to his native English, and he’s so whinily uncharismatic in the lead that I found myself longing for Ioan Griffudd.
Director of the weirdo epic JCVD, Mabrouk El Mecheri tones it way down here, opting for something more like what an anonymous hack like Roger Donaldson might have helmed in 1992. He’s got a cool way of swooping the camera around various landscapes just before the action shots, establishing the geography with a distinct sense of purpose. But it’s still deadly dull once those bullets begin to fly. The more it went on, the more I envied Willis, who was probably enjoying a cheeseburger in an undisclosed location far away.
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