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The Cold Light Of Day review

Where’s that cape when you need it?

Henry Cavill ( Immortals ) is in a race against time in this Madrid-set thriller, which sees his mild-mannered business consultant up to his pecs in duplicitous spies and corrupt officials after his family is kidnapped while vacationing in Spain.

Yet the real race for the 28-year-old Briton is to establish his leading man credentials ahead of Man Of Steel – something this workmanlike slice of sub- Bourne hijinks isn’t likely to achieve in what will probably be a fairly short stay in UK cinemas.

Arriving in Alicante with financial woes as well as luggage, Cavill - and his Blackberry - soon get the goat of his hard-ass, yacht-sailing dad (Bruce Willis), a cultural attaché who gives his oldest son as tough a time as Kevin Smith reportedly got on Cop Out .

Swimming ashore in a huff – the better to show off those honed Kal-El muscles – Cavill returns to find the clan’s gone AWOL, largely due to Bruce’s secret sideline in international espionage.

With only hours to recover a mysterious briefcase – the precise contents of which remain comically vague – Cavill’s Will is soon required to acquire a raft of new skills (gun toting, car chasing, DIY abseiling off terracotta rooftops), not to mention an attractive half-sister (Veronica Echegui) who is no less ignorant of Bruce’s extracurricular activities.

Sigourney Weaver, meanwhile, fetches up as a shades-sporting, power-suited authority figure who at one point berates Will for being a “fucking amateur”.

The same, alas, applies to a dreary slice of hokum that, similar to the otherwise superior Safe House , vainly hopes the deployment of unfamiliar locations will mask its leaden predictability.

Yet it is Cavill who proves the bigger liability, the Tudors star being far too ripped and toned to convince as a sweatily desperate everyman. Watchable enough if hard to root for, he’s a curiously blank presence in a movie that wants us to invest in his survival.

Here’s hoping he brings a tad more personality to Superman in 12 months’ time.

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Neil Smith

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.