Knight and Day
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Tom Cruise in a non-Ethan Hunt action role, and while people like to harp on the Oprah appearances and his all-too-vocal support of scientology, Tom Cruise still has the winsome smile and charm that puts butts in the seats. After a great “hidden” role in TROPIC THUNDER, Cruise is flashing that smile now with Cameron Diaz in the super-spy action thriller KNIGHT AND DAY, to see if he can win a box office weekend in the summer without the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE theme song. Unfortunately for Mr. Katie Holmes (ooh, I went there), and despite his trying to rekindle Cameron Diaz’s status as the “It Girl” she was back in the late 90’s, this is not the movie to do it. The action sequences are enjoyable, and the locations rival that of a Bond flick, but we can’t help but think we’ve seen this movie before, and with its enigmatic title and formulaic plot, the action and star power are not enough to carry this to blockbuster status. Sorry, Tom, TOY STORY 3 is going to own you.
We start with a meet-cute between Cruise and Diaz in an airport and then on a plane to Boston. As Diaz debates in the bathroom whether or not to make a move with this flirty stranger, Cruise is dispatching villains that have used the plane as a cover to capture him and retrieve some hidden, valuable MacGuffin called the Zephyr. Seeing Cruise go from charming stranger to man of action would have been better had the previews not shown so much of it, but still the action is done well, played with machismo and a few laughs. As the plane crash lands, super spy Roy Miller drugs Diaz’s June and sets her back in her bed in Boston, with a warning about future problems with agencies like the FBI and CIA sending people after her thinking they work together. Of course those government agencies do come after her, led by the evil double agent, Agent Fitgerald (Peter Saarsgard – who should really always play evil, I can’t see him as a nice guy), and Roy must rescue June in a car chase through Boston. We are then taken all around the world to safely transport the Zephyr, to save the scientist who created it (an underused Paul Dano), and capture/topple the rogue agent Fitzgerald and a random Spanish arms dealer played forgettably by Jordi Molla (a better Hispanic bad guy in BAD BOYS 2), with June screaming through most of the actions sequences and Roy calmly working his way through them.
I did like how Cruise was nice and calm with Diaz’s character through most of the movie. All too often, these movies have the action hero yelling at the lost and befuddled Everyman that’s caught up in the situation, but we can see that Roy likes June, and regrets putting her in this situation, so even as she does some stupid things, he calmly corrects her. However, I could’ve done without the easy device the movie uses to get them out of tough situations. To calm her down, Roy drugs June at many occasions in the film, and what we as the audience see after that are only flashes of what she sees, making us miss out on whole action sequences as Cruise kills bad guys and escapes capture while June is passed out. It became a running gag, but those are only good if they’re funny and you don’t feel like the writers are taking short cuts. Cruise was a good guy and an affable action hero. He was likeable when he needed to be, tough when he needed to be, but there was nothing that really stood out in his performance. It could have just as easily been played by Ben Affleck and maybe even better by Ryan Reynolds. As for Cameron Diaz, she had her moments throughout, but she is a long way from 1998 and the likeability she showed in THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. In fact, this movie might have been great if it came out then in 1999 or 2000, arriving at the peak of these stars’ prominence. But in 2010, this is not the vehicle that reminds us of the clout they once held…instead, it makes us long for those happier days.
Oh, and side note: the title makes no sense. We sort of see the point ¾ of the way through, but it still makes little to no sense. However, if you are going to use this as the title, we at least need the Sinatra song “Night and Day” during the opening or closing credits. Come on!