(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on 19 August 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/a-tepid-attempt-to-thrill)
Cast: Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, Roschdy Zem and others
Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Rating: ½ star
Let’s say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, some NGO that campaigns against using mobile phones while driving, and the Spanish Tourism Ministry were to collaborate on a movie. They’d likely make The Cold Light of Day. In other words, Israelis are bad. The CIA is bad. Most Americans are bad. They cheat on their wives. They don’t look after the honour of their women. They let chicks sunbathe in bikinis. And they come to Spain on holiday. Oh, look at all the lovely architecture!
Yes, that’s basically the plot of The Cold Light of Day, if you cut out all the chases, the torture sequences, and a series of hard-to-follow accents, most of which are fake – including that of poor Henry Cavill, who must switch from being a Tudor to being a California boy. And a whole lot of sub-plots that involve double-crossing and woman power.
No one should have to see films that deal with the CIA, Mossad, ISI and RAW over a single weekend. So, you’ll understand when I say I thanked God for small mercies when there was no CIA-Mossad romance in here. In fact, there’s no romance at all. How did that happen? Well, there’s a random twist in the plot that would make it rather repugnant.
To Henry Cavill’s credit, he manages to look equally dishy when he’s walking jet-lagged out of an airport, speaking agitatedly on the phone, and getting tortured. He plays Will Shaw, the son of Martin (Bruce Willis) and Laurie (Caroline Goodall). The family appears to be celebrating on a sailboat, because his seemingly geeky brother finally got himself a girl.
And then, it all goes wrong. Someone uses a mobile phone. Enter the Israelis, headed by Zahir (Roschdy Zem), who makes a feeble attempt to prove he has feelings too, before tying Will to a chair and doing bad things to him. Enter the hot-headed chicks, Jean (Sigourney Weaver) and Lucia (Verónica Echegui). Goodbye, logic.
Verdict: The best things about the film are Bruce Willis and Henry Cavill talking tough. That is, if you’re into hot, powerful men.