James Mangold, he of the superb 3:10 to Yuma, tires his hand at a spy-based action/romantic comedy in Knight and Day. He gets kinetic performances from stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz [as possibly psychotic spy Roy Miller and bridesmaid-to-be June Havens] but other than a few fun twists, produces a film that strikes me as having no real script.
The film opens with June and Roy meeting cute – bumping into each other [literally at the airport] – and then winding up together on a flight filled with assassins [Roy had tried to get her onto another flight, but she pluckily gets on this one]. While she’s in the [apparently double soundproofed] loo, he takes out all the assassins [even the pilot, co-pilot and hostess are assassins, what’re the odds?]. Then he lands the plane in cornfield [any landing you can walk away from…]
Somehow, by this point, June is liking this guy – buying his line that others will try to tell her he’s snapped and gone rogue – and more stuff [chases – on foot and in vehicles – take place; fighting, gunfire, explosions and deaths by violence] ensues. Equally unlikely, is the way that we learn about our characters from bits of conversations and quiet moments that don’t really add to much – literally, this movie tells but does not show any important character stuff until a scene involving an elderly couple well into the third act. By this time, all the action set pieces with their too obvious stuntwork and CG have become a kind of sensory overload.
It doesn’t help that Cruise spends most of the film smiling so hard his face must hurt, and Diaz looks like she’s about five pounds away from terminal anorexia [seriously, if she gets any skinnier, she’ll be able to play the classic Joker – without makeup!]. Cruise and Diaz have chemistry, but they have no dialogue worth repeating [the “With me! Without me!” stuff is in the trailer; nothing else is even half that good].
Despite evidence to the contrary in his previous work, Mangold doesn’t really seem to have much of a knack for action here. Knight and Day is one action scene stitched to another, seemingly without any thought given to building actual suspense, or building a relationship between Roy and June. This is a pity because Cruise and Diaz have shown they can act. Why they weren’t allowed to here is beyond me.
Knight and Day really, Really, REALLY wants to be some exquisite amalgam of Charade and North by Northwest. It isn’t. It doesn’t even qualify as goofy summer fun.
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