Oh look! It's Ethan Hunt's long lost clone!
Knight and Day concerns two people. One, Roy, is a super cool, super dry, killing machine. The other, June, is basically a damsel in distress. Through some cruel twist of fate, they end up on the same plane together. June goes into the bathroom, and, while she's away, Roy kills everyone on board. See, Roy's something of a secret agent who is on the run from his bosses. Much to his dismay, June is now a part of the whole thing, so, the two of them must stick together on a globe trotting escapade as they contend with nefarious agents, arms dealers, and their own bickering. It's a standard story. It's pretty much the same as Killers. Anyone remember that movie? There are some forays into the energy crisis that don't go over quite as well as they should, and some misguided twists, but, for the most part, it's an intriguing plot that is easy to get your head around.
Tom Cruise steals the show as Roy. Think of this character as a more lethal, more charismatic, significantly crazier, long lost twin of that other secret agent Cruise is known for, and you'll get an idea of what type of person Roy is. Cruise is having a blast skewering the role that made him an action star, and we have a blast watching him. He's funny, deadly, and total BAMF! Roy is somewhat of a kook, and Cruise fully embraces this aspect of the character. This is another instance where Cruise has successfully utilized humor to work his way back into people's hearts after his incident with the couch. It's not quite as effective as Les Grossman, but, he's on the right track. Cameron Diaz plays his female counterpart, June. I was pleasantly surprised with her. The trailers made her out to be the usual, crazy woman with a shrill scream who is only there for comic relief, but this is not the case. Diaz brings a great deal of spunk to the role, easily matching Cruise for wit. These two are clearly having the time of their lives here, and, unlike some other instances that I can think of, we have a pretty good time watching them. They have great chemistry. Unfortunately, these are the only two performances that are worth mentioning. All the other supporting players, from Peter Sarsgaard to Paul Dano, are completely wasted! They are barely in the movie, and all the scenes they are in are underwritten and uninteresting. Sarsgaard's Agent Fitzgerald is supposed to be the villain, but I didn't once buy him as such because I never got the chance to know him. The two leads are great. Everyone could have just gone home, because they weren't needed.
Take no prisoners!
Director James Mangold is taking his first step into blockbuster, action-comedy with Knight and Day. Until now, his main attractions had been severely nuanced character studies, one about a rock star, the other about cowboys. This is a far cry from those last two, but, it retains the same idea. Mangold's movies work because they tightly focus on two people in a difficult situation. In Walk the Line, it was about Johnny Cash and June Carter as they contend with the lifestyle of a rock legend. In 3:10 to Yuma, is was about Ben Wade and Dan Evans as they match wits on the way to a prison train. Knight and Day follows this same basic concept, but is more content to let the action advance the plot, rather then the words. That's not to say it's a total shoot em' up. It's just that Mangold is a little lost with the action. He's a character director. He has more in common with Scorsese then Bay, and this movie is not as effective because of it. That only makes up for a fraction of my disappointment, however. I am mainly disappointed because I went in expecting the next great action-comedy, one that would thrill me and make me laugh. The problem is that the trailers for this movie gave away most, if not all, of the juicy lines and action segments. It's hard for me not to be excited as Cruise comes flying out of the sky to land on the roof of a speeding Cadillac, casually remarking on the attractiveness of Diaz's dress whilst blowing up cars, while Muse's "Uprising" blasts in the background. The trailers built my expectations up to pretty decent heights. Not Inception levels, mind you, but enough that the finished product was a surefire let down.
But, when all is said and done, Knight and Day is actually pretty good. It's nothing world changing, but, in a summer almost completely devoid of excitement, this one stands out as shining spot. Both the leads do a solid job; the dialogue is witty and sharp, and the action is good enough. Tom Cruise will probably never be back up to the point where everyone goes to see him because he's in a movie, but, you know what? That's a good thing. Maybe he can start doing some acting now. It's served him well so far.