The Cold Light of Day | Movie review
Before playing Superman, Henry Cavill dabbles in international espionage.
Liam Neeson used to be the go-to guy for tacky Euro-thrillers about dogged Americans shooting up the Continent in pursuit of vanished family members. But every baton must be passed, so it’s Superman-in-waiting, Henry Cavill, who gets to shoulder this cheerfully preposterous chase movie about a young San Franciscan whose sunny Mediterranean family holiday is rudely interrupted by inscrutable espionage high jinks.
Sensibly rationing his facial expressions, Cavill lacks Neeson’s gruff authority but looks better in a tight T-shirt. (For the purposes of JCVD director Mabrouk El Mechri’s film, those are equal assets.) The actor plays Will, reluctantly pulled from business troubles to spend a week with his parents and brother on the family sailing boat in Spain, where his taciturn dad, Martin (Bruce Willis), is stationed as a cultural attaché. Struggling to buy Willis in that profession? Don’t worry, he’s actually a corrupt CIA agent, a truth Will learns the hard way after returning from an errand to find both boat and family missing.
It seems Martin has come between international spies and a mysterious briefcase also wanted by shifty agency boss Sigourney Weaver, with whom the star has a series of riotously extended showdowns. The actress phones it in splendidly here: “I’m getting sick of this,” she mutters venomously, after mowing down an entire town square with her semi-automatic. Weaver may be speaking her mind, but she gives this silly potboiler whatever juice it’s got.