Knight and Day

Lazy Fun

Cruise is Back, Sort Of

June 25, 2010
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I should admit right up front that the trailer for this new action comedy may have slightly interfered with my opinion of the film itself.  Try as I do to avoid trailers—along with articles, plot descriptions, and even photos of upcoming films—they always seem to find me.  In most cases, the danger of seeing the trailer is that it gives away far too much of the film’s plot details or best moments.  It’s sometimes so bad that a “spoiler alert” warning at the beginning of the trailer wouldn’t be the worst idea.  In the case of Knight and Day, however, it’s not that the trailer gives too much away.  It’s simply that the trailer is just too much darn fun and the movie can’t quite live up to it.

The plot is simple and fairly familiar.  A normal girl meets this great guy who turns out to be an international superspy and she gets caught up in a mission gone wrong.  In fact, we’ve already seen this basic plot this summer in Killers, only this time the couple aren’t already married; they’ve never met.  Cameron Diaz plays June Havens, a restorer of classic automobiles who is on her way home for her sister’s wedding when she bumps into Tom Cruise’s Roy Miller.

The two hit it off rather well on a mysteriously empty flight to Boston.  It turns out, the flight was a setup and the other passengers are agents charged with eliminating Miller.  Apparently, Miller is a rogue agent who stole a top-secret piece of technology—it’s a really powerful battery—and plans on selling it to an arms dealer.  At least, that’s the story the Feds give June before Roy swoops in and steals her back explaining that she’s only really safe as long as she stays with him.

Tom Cruise was looking to do another spy thriller and was actually linked to both upcoming films The Tourist (now starring Johnny Depp) and Salt (re-written for a woman and now starring Angelina Jolie), but felt they were too similar to his Mission: Impossible franchise.  Along came director James Mangold with a plan for this more comedic effort and Cruise signed on quickly.  It’s a good move for the actor who—with the exception of his brief, but popular comedic role in Tropic Thunder—hasn’t really played much for comedy since his memorable, Oscar-nominated turn as sports agent Jerry Maguire in 1996.

Cruise is a kick as Miller, a guy who could easily be believed as both a top-notch agent who knows exactly what he was doing, or a guy who’s completely cracked.  He and Diaz have a great chemistry, playing quite well off each other.

The action scenes are all fairly enjoyable, but much more so near the beginning of the film when they are still infused with comedy.  In the later part of the movie, the action and the stars performing the stunts all seem a little more serious and the fun quotient drops off a bit.  I also questioned multiple moments when the characters are in peril and one of them is drugged.  The audience then views the action from the point-of-view of the drugged character, thus only catching brief glimpses of the escape.  It’s cleverly done, but it still felt like a screenwriting cheat to get the characters to the next location.  The final payoff works nicely, though.

What kept this movie from being as exciting as its trailer was the pacing.  Now, I understand that by nature a movie trailer is going to be much more quickly paced and edited than the actual feature, but the rhythm of the trailer should be able to translate to the actual film.  A recent example would be A-Team, which felt like exactly the same movie that was advertised in the trailers.  Knight and Day, on the other hand, felt somewhat lazy.  Even during the action scenes, there just seemed to be a lack of energy.

Nevertheless, it is quite enjoyable; and let’s face it, most movies don’t live up to their trailer.  Knight and Day still stands out as an enjoyable summer escape with big stars who seem to be really enjoying themselves.

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credit: TheMovieDB.org

A self-described movie geek, Jeff Walls majored in Film Studies at the University of Utah. He also studied at the Seattle Film Institute, where he worked on short films in every capacity from lighting and acting to writing and directing. For several years, Jeff ran seattlemoviecritic.com, and is now an official DVD-aholic. For more of Jeff’s writing, also see his full archive of reviews at Past the Popcorn, and his extensive archive of pre-PtP work at AllMoviePortal.com. He also blogs about movies for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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