Chloe (Alice Eve), a motel owner, and her young daughter are taken hostage by a career criminal (Bryan Cranston) after his partner is killed.
There is something instantly familiar about Cold Comes the Night, not least the casting of Bryan Cranston as a bearded, shorn headed villain. No, the really familiar thing about the film is that it is eerily reminiscent of almost every crime thriller set in the wilderness that you can think of. There are strong hints of this year’s Deadfall about the film, as a man and woman struggle through an inhospitable landscape to find a mutually beneficial goal.
The normally strong Bryan Cranston does not have a lot to do here, other than shout and have a terrible Russian accent. The actor, as with all actors in the film, are not given a chance to delineate or create something believable, as everything hangs on audience sympathies created by arbitrary choices and associations. Alice Eve plays a single mother whose daughter is used as ransom so she will help the nearly blind Cranston to retrieve his ill-gotten gains and Logan Marshall-Green plays an adulterous cop with few scruples.
The story unfolds as you may expect; woman dragged into a criminal association through her love for her daughter, finds herself trying to reason with her captor. Nothing that happens in Tze Chun, Oz Perkins and Nick Simon’s screenplay feels remotely original, and the characters are not fleshed out enough that the audience cares about them. The only redeeming features about the film are the relatively short running time, and the pacing, which is actually rather good and keeps the film moving steadily.
Tse Chun’s direction does not allow the characters to surprise the audience at any turn, and even though this is a steady enough thriller, it feels so familiar as to be almost instantly forgettable. Plot holes abound, as do dubious decisions by the filmmakers, such as making traits the only facet of these characters’ personalities.
In all, Cold Comes the Night is a by the books thriller that is let down by predictable plotting and familiar scenarios. The actors are not given a chance to do anything remotely new or interesting, but the pacing allows the film to zip along at a good speed. It’s a good job really, otherwise Cold Comes the Night could be pure cinematic torture.