A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: September 7, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: January 29, 2013
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Henry Cavill, Sigourney Weaver
- Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language and sexual content
- Last updated: January 8, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love thrills
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch