Bryan Cranston has been having a big year these past 12 months. The final season of Breaking Bad (where Cranston plays his signature role as Walter White) is now regarded as one of the best final seasons of television ever produced. He has received rave reviews for his Broadway debut in the play about Lyndon B. Johnson’s first term, All the Way, and has been racking up some major movie roles including one in this summer’s Godzilla. So it made complete sense for Samuel Goldwyn Films to release one of their independent films with Cranston’s name among the cast list this past winter with Cranston as the focal point of the marketing campaign. Going into Cold Comes the Night I thought I would be disappointed in that Cranston had just a minor role verging on a cameo, but I ended up being disappointed in another way. Cranston actually has one of the lead roles in Cold Comes the Night. Unfortunately, the film ends up being a meandering thriller that is hard to care about with one of Cranston’s most over-the-top and worst performances ever.
Cold Comes the Night follows Chloe (Alice Eve), a single mother who is put on watch by child services because she is living with her daughter in a dangerous area. Just when she should be proving that she is able to keep her daughter safe she ends caught in the middle of a criminal business deal after being held hostage by the nearly blind Topo (Bryan Cranston). The film is directed by Tze Chun and is written by Chun, Oz Perkins, and Nick Simon.
The problems of this film stem from two major factors. First is that there is nothing remotely special or interesting about this film. The plot doesn’t try to find anything unique within itself, and the atmosphere that the film is directed through is the cold and dark palate that directors use way too often in crime dramas.
Second is that Tze Chun has no idea how to direct his actors. It seems like everyone is giving an over-the-top performance that does not fit with the gritty atmosphere that the film is producing. Bryan Cranston often straddles the line between effective loudness and ridiculous over-the-top-ness in his acting, but in a rare occurrence he crosses the line the wrong way in this film. Maybe it’s because there is really nothing to this character other than his intricacies, which requires hammy acting. Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) also falls victim to this as a corrupt cop and main antagonist of the film. Marshall-Green showed promise in Prometheus as an adventurous explorer of worlds but Cold Comes the Night shows that he really needs a good director to rein himself in. Oddly, Alice Eve is able to escape these problems. While she has never given a notable performance before it is notable that she comes out of this mostly unscathed and gives a surprisingly quiet performance.
Cold Comes the Night hardly makes a case for why it should exist in the first place.