The Cold Light of Day (2012) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • After his family is kidnapped during their sailing trip in Spain, a young Wall Street trader is confronted by the people responsible: intelligence agents looking to recover a mysterious briefcase.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Will Shaw arrives in Spain from San Francisco for a holiday with his family. He is picked up by his father, Martin, who works in various different countries for the government.

    Will goes sailing with his family the next day. He is upset about a call he received the day before that his business is failing. An accident with the sail causes an injury to his brother's girlfriend. Will swims into town to get medicine.

    The boat is missing when he goes back. Eventually he finds the boat further up the coast but it is a mess and abandoned. Will runs to a local police station where the officer in charge makes a phone call and takes him to the beach where Zahir is waiting. Zahir knows where Will's family is but Will suspects a trap and decides to escape in the police car. He crashes into a tree and is almost killed but Martin shows up, saves him and escapes with him.

    Martin reveals he is a CIA agent and that the family was taken because of a briefcase that he stole. They go to Madrid to meet Martin's partner Jean. Will stays in the car while Martin is talking to Jean, who says she doesn't have the briefcase anymore. As Martin returns to this car, Jean gives a signal and a sniper kills Martin. Will barely escapes but the killer follows him through the streets of Madrid a police officer is shot by the sniper and Will is seen by the local police with a gun and knows he is now wanted.

    Will hides his dad's gun in the trash. At the American Embassy he cannot get any help but is directed to meet with Jean and the sniper. They offer to help but after driving a ways he fakes an illness to escape and retrieves the gun.

    He searches his father's phone for recent calls. He phones Diego and Lucia, Diego's niece, answers.

    The kidnappers call and ask for a briefcase in exchange for the family. They call his Dad "Tom" and do not believe that he is dead. Will is given a deadline to return the briefcase.

    Will arrives at Diego's office and speaks to the girl but the man from the Embassy is waiting. There is a fight and the man is killed. Will and Lucia escape, they go to Diego's office where they find him dead and Will finds Jean upstairs.

    Jean wants Will to follow her but is interrupted by Lucia coming in guns blazing. Will and Lucia escape through the rooftop and Will is shot. Lucia takes him to a nightclub where her friend offers medical treatment. Will also finds out the Tom is Martin's alias in Spain, and that Lucia is his half-sister.

    Will recovers and goes to a meeting with the kidnapper. The man on the phone is Zahir who initially beats up Will for information. Once he realises Will is really ignorant, Zahir tells him the truth. The briefcase was stolen from a Mossad agent and Zahir is an Israeli agent determined to recover the case. Jean is the corrupt agent, not Martin. Zahir uses Will to lure out Jean and the buyers of the briefcase.

    Will uses Lucia's credit card at the club and lures out Gorman who is subdued by the bouncers at the club and tortured for information. Will has a plan to let Gorman escape so they can follow him. This works and Jean is found at an underground car park.

    The Israeli agents follow but alert Jean. Gorman is killed trying to escape in his car, Will and Lucia then pursue Jean. After a pursuit through Madrid, the roles are reversed and Jean chases them due to her frustration at their interference. The cars collide and Will's car is worse off. Just as Jean is about to deliver the final blow, she is taken out by Zahir, who retrieves the briefcase.

    As Lucia recovers in hospital, she also meets her new half family, and Will is offered a job at the CIA.

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