(On Cable TV, September 2013) The risk in relying on familiar thriller tropes is that while they can provide structure, they can’t, in themselves, substitute for wit and originality. It’s not a bad idea to propose as a premise an American tourist in Spain getting caught in a complex web of espionage thrills and double-crosses, but it has to be handled with some competence. Alas, The Cold Light of Day is a purely generic product down to its meaningless title, and a roster of familiar actors can’t save the film from by-the-number plotting, familiar plot points, murky motivations and tedious pacing. Henry Cavill gets (and fumbles) a chance to prove himself a contemporary action hero as he finds himself alone and running in Madrid, but he’s easy to forget when sharing scenes with Bruce Willis (as a father with a hidden second and third life) and Sigourney Weaver (as an immediately-suspicious high-level intelligence officer). Much of the film is straight out of the “man running for his life” thriller sub-genre, and while director Mabrouk El Mechri has the occasional good eye for filming action scenes, they feel overlong and perfunctory in the middle of such a familiar framework. (The final car chase definitely has its moments, but it’s too long by at least half its duration) While The Cold Light of Day will act as a pretty good showcase for Madrid’s tourist attractions, it’s not much of a calling card for anyone else involved: the characters are uninvolving, the narrative excitement is flat and nearly everything about the film seems wasted. For a film produced with decent means and known actors, there isn’t much here to distinguish it from a run-of-the-mill TV movie.