Bruce Willis’ career has long been characterized by consistent quantity interspersed with rare, glorious moments of quality; as Nicolas Cage can attest, prolificacy and lack of discrimination go hand in hand. Willis has made a lot of movies like the brutally generic thriller The Cold Light Of Day, and he’ll likely go on to make many more. He’s managed to survive massive bombs like Hudson Hawk and forgettable genre fare like Cold Light by cultivating an aura of supreme, smirking indifference; he clearly doesn’t care, and that apathy gives audiences what little permission they need to follow his lead and tune out whatever dreck he’s sleepwalking through, while holding onto treasured memories of Die Hard and Pulp Fiction. In The Cold Light Of Day, Sigourney Weaver somehow manages to top Willis’ indifference; the two veterans stop just short of rolling their eyes and punctuating every line with jerk-off hand gestures to broadcast their lack of commitment and engagement in the film.
Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder’s choice to play Superman, stars as an American businessman who flies to Spain to join his family on a vacation at sea, only to discover everyone other than father Bruce Willis was kidnapped by shadowy forces while Cavill was off for a swim and visit to town. Cavill’s world is shaken even before he discovers that Willis is a CIA operative, not a cultural attaché as he claimed. Spy skills must be passed down genetically, because before long, this average, albeit ripped businessman turns into a Jason Bourne-like superspy as he hunts down the mysterious briefcase (yes, Cold Light’s McGuffin is a fucking briefcase, which provides some sense of the complete dearth of imagination at work) that is the key to his family’s disappearance.
As an ordinary man in over his head, Cavill works up a mighty sweat running from location to location, confronting people who are understandably confused as to why a wild-eyed perspiration factory is yelling at them in a foreign language. Both the performance and the film it unsteadily anchors are defined by needless, frenetic exertion in lieu of anything resembling inspiration. The film seems afraid to slow down for even a moment, lest the all-consuming emptiness at its core become too apparent. The Cold Light Of Day is the antithesis of a labor of love; it’s a cold, mercenary endeavor that, like the thematically similar Taylor Lautner vehicle Abduction, diligently ignores the potentially intriguing issues of family and identity its plot raises. When a thoroughly checked-out Weaver complains, “I’m getting sick of this” late in the film, she could be speaking for an audience that has seen everything in The Cold Light Of Day done before, generally with more panache and purpose.