Don't worry, the title didn't make any sense to me either. You could have just called this "Superman Tries to Get His Bourne On".
When we meet Will (Henry Cavill), he's already having a bad day. He arrives in Spain for a family reunion that he doesn't want any part of, and learns that his luggage is back in San Francisco. Most people leave their hearts there, but Will Shaw left his luggage there. You meet his father, Martin (Bruce Willis), and the rest of his family. Will and his brothers have daddy issues for some reason that we're never really clear on. Something about Martin's work. Waa waa waa! Daddy wasn't there for me, or something like that.
The family goes sailing the following day, but Will is preoccupied with calls, as he learns his business is bankrupt. Will's lack of focus causes an injury to a family member, so he swims to shore to get medicine. Upon his return, the sailboat is gone. He eventually catches up with the boat to find it abandoned and ransacked. Going to the police doesn't help, and they just lead him back to the beach, where he meets a man that says he knows where is family is and will take him to them. Instead of going along, Will takes off, chased by the cops. They catch up to him, but Martin magically appears to fight them off. He reveals to Will that he's actually been a CIA agent all along, and they need to retrieve some briefcase or their family will be killed.
They meet up with Martin's partner, Carrack (Sigourney Weaver), and the movie doesn't even try to make you believe for a second that she's not the real villain. Carrack betrays Martin, and Bruce Willis checks out at this point, or maybe he just wanted to collect his check and go home early. It's now up to Will to figure out what's going on and get this briefcase back before it's too late. What's in the briefcase, you ask? It doesn't matter, and the movie never even tries to explain it. It could have been a flash drive or microfilm for all it mattered to the 'plot'.
Along the way he meets a cute local named Lucia (Veronica Echegui), who turns out to be Will's half sister. Yes, in addition to misleading his sons about his career, Martin also had a second family in Spain. One unusual point is that Martin reveals that while his sons never knew about him being a CIA agent, his wife did. I'm not sure why it's okay to tell your wife, but not your kids, but whatever. His reveal that he's a CIA agent was so obvious from the opening moments of the film that it felt pointless to even begin with him pretending otherwise.
The Cold Light of Day doesn't bother with things like making sense. One of the better examples of this is at one point Will is shot, and he's taken to a safe place (not a hospital) where a random person examines him and announces that there's no bullet in him, even though he was shot in the midsection and there's no exit wound. Um...thanks for your expert advice there, not-doctor. I guess he's in the clear then. Characters behave irrationally throughout, and don't seem to have any issue putting people in danger that they just met. The story and terrible dialog felt recycled and pieced together from other films. Even the score felt like it was meant for another movie. This was written by Scott Wiper and John Petro, who don't have a very impressive resume so far, and they don't do anything creative or original here.
I have a feeling this was something originally meant for direct to video, but they tried to push out during a slow weak in hopes of generating some buzz for Henry Cavil. This movie isn't going to do it though. In fact, I'm much less confident that Zack Snyder picked the right guy for Superman now. I don't dislike Cavill, but he seems too serious (and skinny) and I just can't see him as Clark Kent or Superman.
It's a shame, because when I see names like Willis, Weaver and Cavill on the poster, I had hoped that this would at least have a certain level of quality. Sigourney Weaver gives the best performance here, but it's odd to me that she seems to now be the default, bad-guy-agent or head of an organization in most of her recent roles. If she would have played this as over-the-top as Michael Shannon did in Premium Rush, then I'd have an easier time recommending this. As mentioned earlier, Bruce Willis is barely in this, and his early exit in the film seems to say that even he knew this wasn't going to be very good. I'm sure he enjoyed his mini-vacation in Spain though.
I can't even say it's a good spy movie, because it's not about a spy. It's a normal guy thrown into a situation he has no understanding of. There's lots of chasing between Will and Carrack, but it's all shot in a way that at times you can't even tell what's going on, and it becomes tedious to watch instead of entertaining. If you're someone that's annoyed by quick cuts and shaky cam work, you get tons of that here. Some of this shaky cam work is done at night with very little light, so you really can't tell what's going on. It's all done to cover for poorly choreographed fight and chase scenes. There's also a lot of awkward mirror shots that may have worked in a better movie, but here just felt like a gimmick.
I'm surprised this didn't turn out better as the director, Mabrouk El Mechri, also directed JCVD, which is an infinitely better film. I don't know what happened here, but if you haven't seen JCVD yet, rent that instead of bothering with this.
The Cold Light of Day is a totally forgettable thriller that felt like a bad Bourne-clone. It's completely by-the-numbers and doesn't bring anything new, fun or interesting to the genre. This is the kind of movie you'd probably think wasn't bad if you caught it on cable recovering from a hangover on a Sunday afternoon and couch surfing. No need to see this one in the theater. Save this for cheap rental, streaming or cable.
1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars