Cruise and Diaz unite for an action-packed forgettable adventure comedy.
Say what you want about Tom Cruise, the man is, and always will be, a box-office draw.
Sure he is a little nuts, believes in that whole alien thing and smiles
more than is normal for a human being but he has got screen presence to
burn. Add to that the always-delectable Cameron Diaz, no slouch
in the box-office stakes herself, and you would be fair in assuming that
Knight And Day was onto a winning formula. The problem is Knight And
Day feels as if it has been written to a formula, each scene might
work, each set-piece excites but when you put it all together it feels
June (Diaz) is on her way home for her sister’s wedding when she
bumps into Roy (Cruise) at the airport. While on the flight June flirts
with Roy as he effortlessly dispatches the special agents sent to
capture him. With June the only witness to the whole affair she finds
herself embroiled in a breakneck adventure as Roy’s former partner
Fitzgerald (Sarsgaard) tries to discover what she knows.
Realising that June is now part of the bigger picture Roy takes her
around the globe in a hunt to find Simon Feck (Dano) and his everlasting battery The Zephyr.
As mindless entertainment goes Knight And Day works. It has
beautiful leads, exotic locations, fun set-pieces and, perhaps most
importantly, is light heart. However, in spite of all these key
ingredients it always feels chopped together, as if there was a list of
things that a producer wanted to do and found a screenwriter willing to
shoe-horn them all in. What starts as a Hitchcockian premise of
mistaken identity, one scene seems to directly homage Hitch’s crop
duster set-piece from North By Northwest (1959), later disintegrates
into a formulaic action film.
Director James Mangold is something of a chameleon when it
comes to genre films. He has dabbled in Oscar contenders with Walk The
Line (2005), before moving onto westerns with 3:10 To Yuma (2007) and
has also toyed with horror in Identity (2003). With this in mind Knight
And Day might simply be another notch on the bedpost but he brings an
entertaining flair to the proceedings. His colour pallet is
deliberately vibrant, echoing that of Hitchcock’s Technicolor outings
and he certainly knows how to capture the chemistry between his two
leads. The action is always fun but rarely exhilarating. At no point
does it feel as though June and Roy are in real danger. Furthermore,
Mangold’s execution is often undermined by the use of clunky CGI that
fails to fully integrate the actors into the action. Computerised bulls
and seagulls seem to be the main cut backs, almost certainly as a result
of having to fork out fees for two of the biggest earners in Hollywood.
It is perhaps ironic that as Angelina Jolie’s star rating reaches its peak, Tom Cruise’s seems to be faltering. Cruise
was attached to both Salt and The Tourist at one point, two films that
have seen Jolie cement her status as the action girl de jour. But, Knight And Day is a film Cruise clearly sought out. Roy
in many ways is a character who rifts on Cruise’s on screen persona. He
is slightly manic, often calm in a crisis and ready with a witty or
glib remark. With this and his film stealing turn in Tropic Thunder
(2008) it would appear Cruise is setting his sights on more fun
orientated roles rather than the moody, ever running, Ethan Hunt of the
Mission Impossible films. Crucially though Roy is very Ethan Hunt but
with less emotional baggage and more charm.
Opposite Cruise, Diaz brings her trademark ditz to June. The two
having shared the screen before in Vanilla Sky (2001) certainly bring an
enjoyable level of heat to the screen. There is rarely much romantic
energy between them but the almost True Lies (1994) bickering is one of
the comedic highlights of the film. Unfortunately for Diaz much of
her role involves screaming manically and being drugged in order to get
her out of the way. Furthermore, her character is far too clean cut for
someone who claims to spend much of her time under the bonnet of a car.
If you are looking for mindless fun then Knight And Day works. For
the those who like a little substance, and coherent story, to their
films it will feel thrown together for the sake of the lead actors
rather than an audience in mind. Like the pearly white teeth of
Cruise and Diaz, Knight And Day might dazzle, but scratch beneath the
surface and you will find all sorts of cavities.