The Cold Light of Day

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Cold Light of Day Movie Poster Image
Amazingly dumb thriller has violence and sexual content.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Nobody learns much of anything here. After his adventure -- and causing untold amounts of violence, wreckage, and death -- the character is offered a job (so there are no negative consequences).

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character spends the entire film trying to rescue his family and doesn't seem to care how that comes about. He could actually be collaborating with terrorists, though the movie isn't clear on that point. He argues with people, wrecks cars and property, and, though he doesn't actually kill anyone himself, he's certainly around when people die. The rest of the characters aren't around enough to be role models.


Many bullets are fired, but characters seem to die more often from car crashes than anything else. One main character dies, and people are kidnapped. Lots of fighting and beating people up, but not a great deal of blood. In one harrowing scene, a character tries to help a gunshot victim, first by digging around inside the wound to find the bullet, and then cauterizing the wound with a hot spoon -- though most of this gory stuff happens just off screen.


No nudity or sex, but (spoiler alert) in a subplot it's revealed that the main character's father had an extramarital affair that resulted in another child; he kept this second family secret from his first family. Otherwise, the main character is seen shirtless in a couple of scenes, and another supporting character is seen in a bikini and kissing her boyfriend.


Infrequent language includes one "f--k" and a few "s--t"s, as well as "bitch," "goddamn," "hell," and "oh my God." One character apparently says "f---ing," but the word is drowned out under the noise of a gunshot.


Quick shots of a Coca-Cola can, a BlackBerry mobile device, and a MasterCard.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A family drinks wine at dinner. One character gulps down a glass after hearing some bad news. A minor character, a nightclub owner/manager, drinks lots of hard liquor every time he's on screen.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cold Light of Day -- a kidnap/rescue thriller set in Madrid -- has lots of shooting and car crashes, and characters are beaten up quite frequently (and there are deaths), but there's not much blood. Language is sparse, but contains two uses of "s--t." Though there's no real nudity or sex, there's a subplot about an extramarital affair and its consequences. There are also a couple of shots of the main character shirtless and some supporting characters kissing. Characters drink in a background way, though in more than one instance, it looks as though they're trying to get drunk.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnchunHuo January 28, 2013

Don't bother

It is mentioned in the description above as dumb thriller.

Kid, 12 years old April 16, 2017
Teen, 17 years old Written bymoviebuff6996 June 3, 2013

Want to know why you have probably never heard of this movie?Read on to find out.

“Although The Cold Light of Day has some nice scenery; it ultimately is a terrible movie with poor acting, blatant advertising, unconvincing action scenes, logi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) travels to Madrid for a reunion with his parents and brother. Unfortunately, when he goes ashore for some time alone, the rest of his family is kidnapped. His father, Martin (Bruce Willis), escapes long enough to explain that he's really a CIA agent and that the kidnappers want a mysterious briefcase -- but then Will ends up on his own. Martin's colleague (Sigourney Weaver) offers to help, but Will isn't sure he trusts her. He follows his own instincts and meets Lucia (Veronica Echegui), who has some secrets of her own but agrees to help. Can Will locate the actual kidnappers and save his family before time runs out?

Is it any good?

Written by Scott Wiper (The Condemned) and John Petro and directed by Mabrouk El Mechri (JCVD), The Cold Light of Day is a colossal mess -- and amazingly dumb. The plot makes absolutely no sense. It relies on a device that requires the bad guy letting the good guy go so that he can be followed, and then, later, the good guys do the same thing to another bad guy. And nobody actually ends up following anyone. There are a hundred similar points at which logic just fails.

Moreover, the filmmakers completely fail to provide either strong characters or good action. Poor Weaver and Willis turn in arguably the worst performances of their careers; Weaver is supposed to be an ambiguous character, but she seems evil and conniving from the start. Star Cavill has no screen presence anyway, so he fares even worse. The action sequences are completely inept, shaky, disjointed, and anticlimactic. And the ending is flat-out insulting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does it compare to what you've seen in other thrillers and action movies?

  • At the end of the movie, the main character is praised for his actions, even though a lot of people were hurt and killed and a lot of property was destroyed. Should there have been consequences for these actions?

  • Are any of the characters role models? Are they meant to be?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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