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4 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Knight and Day
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Hence, It Don't Make Sense"
2 stars

“Knight and Day” is one of those determinedly inconsequential films that has nothing more on its mind that presenting viewers with the sight of a couple of highly-paid movie stars traveling to picturesque locations in the service of an absurdly complicated storyline and exchanging glib banter and toothy smiles while they (not to mention their stunt doubles) dodge explosions and gunfire, not to mention anything remotely resembling real-world concerns. In theory, there is nothing inherently wrong with a film that takes this sort of approach--over the years, the formula has worked reasonably well in the service of such films as “Charade,” “North by Northwest,” the James Bond movies, “Silver Streak,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and too many others to list here. (The first person who complains that I left off “Killers” gets a smack in the face, FYI.) The trouble with “Knight and Day” is that it is inexplicably determined to remind viewers in virtually every scene that it is one of those determinedly inconsequential films blah, blah, blah. Few things in the cinema are more annoying than the sight of a film insisting upon its own cutesiness and this one practically leaps off the screen and grabs you by the lapels in its efforts to do just that. As a result, what should have been an agreeably silly summer time-waster eventually grows so irritating after a while that by the time it finally ended, I found myself thinking that if I never saw any of these people again in my lifetime, both the characters and the actors playing them, I would be the happiest man around--not exactly the kind of response that should be inspired by a film that exists only to celebrate the star power of the actors and to presumably kick off a long and lucrative franchise.

As the film begins, the impossibly lovely June Havens (Cameron Diaz) and the impossibly charming Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) literally bump into each other at the airport and eventually find themselves on the same strangely under-populated plane heading for Boston. What June doesn’t realize is that Roy is a secret agent on the run from the government and that the people on board are all there to kill him. While the oblivious June goes to the washroom to freshen up, Roy wipes out all of the “passengers,” not to mention the pilots as well, and when she returns, she takes his explanation as to what has happened as an odd form of flirtation. Happily, Roy manages to crash-land the plane in a cornfield and before drugging June and taking off, he advises her that people will be coming after her for information about him and that her life may be in danger if she doesn’t deny having ever met him. Sure enough, when she comes to, she is approached by a squad of government goons led by Roy’s former partner, Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard), who informs her that Roy is a rogue agent who has stolen the top-secret prototype for a perpetual energy source invented by a brilliant young geek (Paul Dano) and may be looking to sell it to some form of no-goodnik. Inevitably, June slips up but before anything can happen to her, Roy returns in the ta-daa nick of time and the two are soon on the run in a chase that takes them from Boston to Austria to Spain to a remote tropical island.

You will recall that in the first paragraph of this review, I listed a number of films from over the years that screenwriter Patrick O’Neill no doubt looked to for inspiration when writing “Knight and Day.” The trouble is that while he has indeed written a film just as heedlessly silly and nonsensical as its forbearers, he has failed to approximate the attitude that they maintained towards the material that was actually far more important to their success than the slick repartee and whatnot. You see, the best of those films--for arguments sake, lets pick “Charade” and “North by Northwest”--were made by people who knew that they were heedless bits of nonsensical cinematic froth but they had the dignity to approach the material with a light touch that didn’t constantly call attention to their weightlessness; even though Cary Grant was obviously in on the joke, he maintained his dignity throughout and as a result, he made things even funnier as a result. “Knight and Day,” on the other hand, keeps reminding us of its own inconsequentiality and after a while, the whole “Hey, we’re just having fun!” attitude begins to grate--this is the kind of movie where a perfectly innocent peripheral character is shot at point-blank range by our hero and we are supposed to be amused because it is laughed off by everyone, including the victim, as a meaningless flesh wound. The other problem with this attitude is that it makes it impossible to develop any interest in the story--if the film itself seems to barely care how it turns out, why should anyone in the audience?

Even if you are somehow able to overlook the smug attitude that permeates most of “Knight and Day,” there is still the inescapable fact that it fails to offer viewers anything that they haven’t seen many times before. The screenplay is a hodgepodge of banter that isn’t nearly as witty as it thinks that it is, running jokes that aren’t especially funny the first time around for the most part and grow less so as things progress, overamped action sequences that are so overblown that they seem to have been trucked in from another movie and surprise plot developments that are so completely not surprising that I just assumed that the film had a few more tricks up its sleeve and that the real twists lay ahead. It is rumored that many hands have worked on this screenplay both before and during production and it certainly feels that way--much of it feels like a collection of isolate incidents instead of a collective whole and while there are a few inspired bits here and there (a lengthy and exceptionally convoluted escape as seen through the half-closed eyes of a drugged June is the highlight), there simply aren’t enough of them to make it work. The film was directed by James Mangold, who has directed excellent films like “Walk the Line” and “3:10 to Yuma” but who is someone that I will always be wary of because of the fact that he also directed “Identity,” which may well be the single stupidest movie ever made. “Knight and Day” is nowhere near as bad as “Identity” (though there are moments so dopey that I found myself scanning the screen in anticipation of finding Pruitt Taylor Vance hanging around in the background) but he is clearly someone more comfortable with directing a couple of people in a room than in staging immense action sequences and as the film tilts more and more towards the firepower, you can feel the whole thing slowly but surely slipping out of his grip.

The strangest problem with “Knight and Day” is the fact that it is a vehicle to showcase the charms of two superstars who are surprisingly ill-suited for the material. For example, Tom Cruise has demonstrated his significant chops as an actor countless times over the course of his career in a wide variety of projects but, save for the likes of the old teen sex romp “Losin’ It” and his cameo turn in “Tropic Thunder,” broad and silly comedy is something that he has never really dabbled in before and based on the results here, it is something that he is not particularly comfortable with doing. Oh sure, he tries hard to come across as charming and silly throughout--he certainly can’t be accused of slacking here--but the sheer effort that he utilizes to pull it off winds up weighing down the proceedings. Diaz is also a very talented performer but when she is given a role that requires her to display near-hysterical behavior, as this one does throughout, she has a tendency to become a bit shrill and off-putting. When she finally does get a chance to relax, as in a bit when she is given an extremely effective truth serum, she is much more appealing and during the scenes between her and Cruise when they are able to simply play off of each other instead of dodging cars and explosions, they show enough charm to make you wish that they could play together in a straightforward romantic comedy someday. Actually, they will make you wish that they actually had done a straightforward romantic comedy and skipped “Knight and Day” altogether.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19521&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/22/10 23:56:39
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User Comments

3/24/18 morris campbell dull & boring 1 stars
1/30/13 the truth Cruise plays Cruise. Nothing can kill Cruise but... Cruise? <neck snaps> 4 stars
7/03/11 RLan an okay action picture with very little chemistry between the two stars. 2 stars
3/19/11 ad Same faces. Hmmmmm. 2 stars
1/07/11 millersxing I'm surprised the scenes where the car talks didn't make it in to this stupid movie. 2 stars
12/26/10 DK Tom Cruise has still got it, honest to goodness fun 4 stars
12/21/10 mr.mike Not bad at all 4 stars
8/06/10 naewar Total escapism; so funny; "Don't worry -- I've got this." 5 stars
7/31/10 Cheryl W. Great plot, great actors, lots of action. Loved it. 5 stars
7/29/10 Knowitall bastard Definitely better than "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". Tongue-in-cheek and has a heart! 4 stars
7/19/10 dmw It's all been done before, but funnier! 2 stars
7/19/10 garrett really? 1 stars
7/02/10 Charles R.L. Power Wild stunts, depthless characters, silly plot 2 stars
7/01/10 Justin Pile of crap. 1 stars
7/01/10 Ming It is not one of Cruise's best film. There is not much of a plot here. Crude joke 2 stars
6/26/10 SMO Pretty standard action flick, but that's not saying it didn't have some entertaining scenes 3 stars
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  23-Jun-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Nov-2010


  DVD: 30-Nov-2010

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