Knight and Day (2010) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language
Running time: 109 min.
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molla, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Falk Hentschel, Marc Blucas, Lennie Loftin, Maggie Grace
Director: James Mangold
Screenplay: Patrick O'Neill
Review published January 18, 2011
Moving just fast enough to keep a case of the lulls away, Knight and Day delivers just enough action, humor, and lushly exotic locale work to entertain most audiences not expecting anything more than a pleasant good time. The two leads, while not cast exactly to their strengths, work well enough in this easygoing, traditional comic thriller.
A buff 47-year-old Tom Cruise (Lions for Lambs, MI3) stars as Roy Miller, who, while about to board a plane, literally bumps into Midwestern single gal-next-door June Havens (Diaz, The Box) as she is en route to attend her sister's wedding. On the plane, all hell breaks loose, as would be assassins try to take Roy down, but he ends up turning the tables, much to June's astonishment. The MacGuffin is a small battery with a perpetual life called the Zephyr, which bad guys, including a powerful Spanish arms dealer (Molla, Bad Boys II), wants, while the FBI and CIA try their best to nab Roy, who they feel is a dangerous rogue agent. So, on the run from all sides, Roy must find a way to protect the Zephyr, keep its inventor (Dano, There Will Be Blood) from falling into enemy hands, take down the truly rogue elements that forced him to go on the run, all the while keeping June out of harm's way as much as possible.
The actors perform their respective comedic roles well, with Diaz in the irritatingly ditzy-blonde role reminiscent of Goldie Hawn in her prime, though not quite as endearing in her level of scatterbrain charm. Cruise performs his role, not with great charisma, but more a man out of sorts. He's a killing machine with an overwhelming need to be polite about it. He has confidence, but doesn't exude enough of it to get her to trust him, at least not initially, as it is never quite sure if he's going rogue because of the reasons he states or because he's just become a loose screw. The actors aren't a cleanly complementary, banter-heavy mix for what the Patrick O'Neill screenplay may have been calling for, but it works in a way that just might be called quirkily refreshing.
The direction by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) keeps its light tone throughout the heavy violence by making the CGI-laden action scenes go so far over the top that they become as absurd as the comedic moments, such as a chase scene where the duo end up smack dab in the middle of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. The story is mostly a True Lies formula, with sprinklings of Romancing the Stone -- June gets into trouble, Roy saves her bacon and wreaks comically unfathomable havoc -- so the offbeat approach is certainly just the mix the otherwise routine plotline needs. There are elements that come into play late in the film that asks June to question whether or not she should trust Roy or not, but given the casting of Cruise as protagonist and Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead, Flightplan) as conniving rival, audiences won't have any trouble knowing just who to believe is the good guy.
By the end of the film, you'll realize that there's nothing important or particularly groundbreaking about Knight and Day, and that it's as disposable as style-over-substance action-comedies get these days. And yet, it's a cartoonishly entertaining ride along the way, such that, it may not exactly be filling, while it's on, it's satisfying enough to quell that action-comedy hunger.
©2011 Vince Leo