Having made a huge success for himself in American TV series Breaking Bad, all eyes are on actor Bryan Cranston, as he appears in one of only a handful of leading cinematic roles since the drama became the powerhouse it has grown to be. However, and despite turning in a more than worthy performance, Tze Chun’s crime thriller Cold Comes the Night is not quite up to a similar standard, in what is a frustratingly conventional offering.
Alice Eve plays Chloe, a motel owner struggling financially, while beating off social services, who have their eyes on her daughter (Ursula Parker), given the dangerous conditions they live within. Such insecurity is a result of the dodgy guests that the motel attracts, one of which is the partially blind Russian gangster Topo (Cranston), who holds Chloe hostage as he requires her assistance in reclaiming a stash of money – which is currently in the possession of cop, and personal friend of Chloe’s, Billy (Logan Marshall-Green). Though petrified when being in such unchartered territory, the potential money at stake gives Chloe the desire she needs to get further involved, as this sought-after package causes devastation amongst its admirers.
Though the initial task at hand seems relatively straightforward, there is a chilling, foreboding atmosphere prevalent, as you come to terms with the fact that there is still an hour or so to go and it’s completely inevitable that this mission isn’t going to go quite as planned. However, it’s never quite as intense or suspenseful as it should be, given the story at hand, and fingers must be pointed at Chun for this being the case. Nonetheless, the motel setting is vital, allowing Chun the chance to pay homage to the likes of Psycho and Identity, and play on the precarious, isolated setting provided.
Cold Comes the Night survives heavily off the dynamic between our leading pair, as between Chloe and Topo have a multilayered relationship, as a strange degree of respect appears to exist between the two. Topo is not your traditional antagonist, and his vulnerability is explored greatly, making for a sympathetic villain. The fact he isn’t quite so mobile and he’s partially blind endears us to him somewhat, as he seems almost hopeless hiding behind a pair of sunglasses – the problem is, it means we’re lacking that character to fear, which this desperately lacks.
To even it out, nobody is particularly nice either, and even Chloe is a flawed protagonist, capable of some wrongdoings and misjudgements. The leading three performances are very strong though, it’s just a shame they’re within somewhat underwhelming circumstances, with a script not quite matching the credentials of the cast. Eve is the standout, playing a dominant, female lead, and, unlike in Star Trek Into Darkness, there’s not a needless underwear shot in sight.
Though undoubtedly enjoyable in parts, Cold Comes the Night is too conventional a thriller, bringing little new to the genre. Littered with strong performances – and another picture to mark the rise of the talented youngster Parker – this all too forgettable feature sadly won’t be one we’ll be talking about in years to come.