The Cold Light of Day: missing more than family

The doldrums of September are finally upon us. It’s that time of year when Hollywood gives full expression to its disdain for movie goers by dumping its crappiest tax write-offs into empty theaters. Enter The Cold Light of Day, a movie so bland and forgettable that, despite having seen it less than twelve hours ago, I actually had to look it up on IMDB.com just to recall the title.

The Cold Light of Day is a product-placement travelogue in search of a coherent thriller. A poor imitation of the best Bourne films, it’s confusing and illogical, with plot lapses and continuity blunders.

Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver star alongside Henry Cavill in this story of a young man who finds his family abducted by terrorists during a vacation to Madrid. Why is his family kidnapped? Because his dad, Bruce Willis, is secretly leading the double life of a CIA agent.

Never before have I seen a movie where the characters themselves seemed so bored to be in their own movie. The entire supporting cast provides dead-eyed, monotone line readings throughout the film’s torturous 93 minutes.

But the lethargy doesn’t begin and end with the cast; everything about The Cold Light of Day feels sluggish. In one chase sequence, Sigourney Weaver plows a Range Rover into a motorcycle carrying Cavill. The bike skids off the street, but before Weaver can put a bullet in his head, he gets back on the bike and speeds away at a whopping 15 miles per hour. Weaver just stands there as if she’s too sedated to even be bothered to continue chasing him.

In another sequence, Cavill, after being framed for murder, finds himself being chased through a park by one police officer on horseback and another two or three officers on foot. He bolts down a gravel pathway and into a tunnel. Everyone in the scene can clearly see Cavill running for the tunnel. The officer on horseback is thrown from his mount before he can enter the tunnel, and the scene immediately cuts to Cavill washing his hands and face in a public bathroom. What the hell happened to the other half dozen police officers who were chasing after him? Did they just turn around go home after their buddy faceplanted on a sidewalk?

Every aspect of The Cold Light of Day, from the writing to the performances to the direction to the unimaginative title, absolutely reeks of laziness. Avoid at all costs.

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Prometheus: even Fassbender can’t save it

Prometheus, widely anticipated as the must-see movie of the month, hit cinemas last week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the film many of us thought it was going to be.

In this prequel, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace plays religious scientist Elizabeth Shaw. Shaw, along with her colleague and lover Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discovers a pattern in ancient cave drawings, leading them to believe the human race was engineered by physically and genetically similar beings from another world. Attracting the financial assistance of a dying billionaire, Shaw and Holloway take charge of a spaceship and follow their ‘map’ to a distant moon.

From start to finish, this movie is an excellent visual spectacle. I’m saddened to report, however, that that’s all it is. Not only does this film not live up to the hype surrounding it, but it actually fails to pass for an enjoyable film in its own right.

It’s difficult to outline this films many faults and failings without exposing a wealth of spoilers… but there are some absolutely huge holes in this shabbily put together plot. The motivation behind some characters key decisions are never explained and some scenes/characters/discussions are utterly pointless and add nothing to the story.

Idris Elba gives a very enjoyable performance as the Captain of the spaceship, but a lack of character development means that you won’t really give a damn about him or any decision he makes. Charlize Theron also gives an enjoyable, if stiff, performance… but again, there’s not nearly enough development there. Guy Pearce plays the aforementioned dying billionaire but even he can’t bring this dead husk of a character to life. His ability is completely wasted in this lacklustre storyline.

Michael Fassbender is the one saving grace of this film in his role as the mannerly and scholarly robot David. At times he his creepy, knowledgeable and darkly humorous but, in true psychopathic form, is neither bad nor good. Fassbender’s performance is captivating and unique and he really brings something unique to the table. The same can be said, to an extent, of the female lead, Noomi Rapace. To be sure, nobody is going to confuse her for the next Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), but Rapace does an admirable job in the lead role none the less.

Regardless of performances, the entire film fails to deliver anything but a visually pleasing reboot of a franchise that should have been left alone. The horrific magnificence of both Alien and Aliens is their directness. They are primal thrillers and questions of life and philosophy tend to take a back seat when you’ve a xenomorph attached to your face.

All in all, Prometheus has been the biggest disappointment of 2012 so far. If you’re just looking to pass two hours of your day, by all means, take a look… but don’t expect it to live up to the hype.

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