June 26, 2010

Movie Review: Knight and Day

knightandday1_largeAs I walked down the long theater hallway with my popcorn and soda in tow I was greeted by one of the ushers I know. The young movie fan asked me what I was going to see and I told him Knight and Day. He asked me why and I told him it looked like fun. I, in turn, asked if he was going to check out and he said probably not. When I pushed further, asking why, he tells me that Tom Cruise is a terrible human being. The response shocked me a little but I felt somewhat confident he was at least partially kidding. However, it does seem that his membership in Scientology and somewhat off-kilter public persona that has emerged in recent years has had an effect on his perception of the man and his movies. I cannot help but believe he is not alone and this could prove a detriment to his career (crowd pleasing moment in Tropic Thunder aside).

Our conversation went on a bit longer. I argued that while I was not pro-Scientology and agreed that his public persona is a little strange, he still knows how to deliver on the big screen. He is a movie star and acts as such in the appropriate roles in the movies. Besides that, he is not doing anything illegal or hurting anyone and there are certainly plenty of people who are idolized or cheered whose lives have question marks in them. He eventually agreed with me. I mean, seriously, has Tom Cruise done anything so bad as to cause you to turn your back on him? Regardless of what you think of his off screen (aka "private" life), turn the cameras on and he knows how to put it all out there.


As for the evening's movie, Knight and Day, I went in with low expectations. The trailers looked like fun, but it also felt too close to the release of Killers for another film with a similar idea of spies, non-spy loves, comedy, and action. Fortunately, the execution and success of these two films is quite dissimilar. Similar window dressing aside, their most similar quality is that they both take non-traditional angles on the material. That is most definitely a good thing.

The movie opens with the requisite meet-cute whereby Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) and June Havens (Cameron Diaz) cross paths in a Wichita airport, forever changing their destinies.

"Sometimes things happen for a reason."

That is a line that Roy tells June as he gets on a flight that June has been bumped from. Destiny has a different fate for their lives, she ends up on the plane and all hell breaks loose. June's live is then hopelessly entwined with that of Roy. You see, Roy is rogue CIA with something that the CIA wants and are willing to kill for.


Knight and Day makes great use of the MacGuffin, meaning an item that is seemingly the focus of the story but ultimately means nothing (think of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction). The movie is not so much about the chase for the item or its young inventor (Paul Dano), the movie is about Roy and June. It is a romantic comedy wrapped up in a big exploding action film.

As the story moves forward, Roy and June keep crossing paths, rather June gets away and Roy must find a way to protect her. The story is propelled forward by a series of elaborate action sequences in which Roy gets to show how good he is, June how inept she is, and how they are actually a good team.

This is the sort of movie that flies by. It has a quick pace and has a quick wit to go with the explosions and bullets. It is a movie that goes perfectly with the summer season. It is fun, light as a feather, and has no real purpose other than to entertain. In some ways you could compare it to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, both are movie star vehicles, both boast big action pieces, and both have a good amount of humor. Sometimes it is all right for a movie to merely exist to entertain, although this does not mean it does not need quality, those are different discussions. Fortunately, this film has the quality to back it up.


Knight and Day is not about reality. It is all about heightening that reality, big personalities, outrageous situations, and movie stars playing the lead roles. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz have an effortless chemistry on the screen. The humor and romance leaps off of the screen as they plow through bad guys or discuss the next move.

Make no bones about it, this is a movie star vehicle, you can tell by the way director James Mangold shoots his stars. Consider the opening sequence that introduces us to our star, he shot so that you do not see his face culminating in a silhouette hero pose. Indulgent? Perhaps, but this movie is about the star. It works. It transports the audience out of the mundane and into the exciting.

Tom Cruise proves he still has the charm and ability to carry a movie. No, he does not (well, never really had) great range, but in a role such as this he is perfect. He is very funny and handles himself well during the set pieces, where he performed his own stunts. On the other hand, Cameron Diaz is a lot more fun and entertaining than I have seen her in sometime (The Box notwithstanding, that was an interesting film).

Bottomline. Basically, if you are looking for fun, Knight and Day is going to be the movie for you. Frankly, I was surprised by how much fun it is. It has great production values, good stunts, good humor, and is just a fun time at the theater.




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