Knight and Day Review


Well, summer blockbusters this year are improving, albeit at a snail’s pace. The best thing I can say about “Knight and Day” is that it’s a step above most of what I’ve seen this summer. Coming fresh off the heels of The A-Team, it was good. But judged objectively, this is just another stale, disposable action flick with pretty people to look at and things blowing up. Like “The A-Team,” director James Mangold’s film is an action-comedy. Unlike that film, this one is heavier on action than it is on comedy. Some of the action sequences are solid. And there’s chemistry between leads Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. But the “been there done that” feeling was as strong as it’s been all summer. In the end, I didn’t feel anything, and the whole experience just washed right away.

June Havens (Diaz) is the poster child for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the airport on her way home to Boston, she repeatedly bumps into Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), and when she is bumped from the flight, Roy tells her these things often happen for a reason. It’s meant as a warning, but unfortunately, June doesn’t heed it.

She soon learns that Roy is a spy on the run. He claims to be protecting something called the zephyr (a limitless power source) and its creator, Simon (Paul Dano), from a rogue FBI agent (Peter Saarsgard) and a Spanish arms dealer (Jordi Molla). But no one believes him, and June is forced to examine the possibility that Roy is in fact the rogue agent trying to sell the zephyr on the black market. They trot the globe searching for a way to defeat those working against them, even when they aren’t quite sure who that is.

The plot feels painfully recycled. There’s a MacGuffin that every wants to get their hands on. There are double crosses, exotic locales, and the eventual softening of a rough, gruff hero. The characters are cookie cutter; the action sequences are fun but familiar. Literally nothing about this film is fresh.

With that said, there is some fun to be had. The climactic action sequence set on the streets of Spain during the running of the bulls is actually quite exciting (even though we know how things will end). Even the less exciting action sequences are well-choreographed (Mangold handles the action surprisingly well). And there’s one poignant scene in which we meet Roy’s parents that offers a different perspective of this seemingly indestructible man.

There’s been a lot of talk about the (diminishing?) star power of Tom Cruise. After a few rough years on the public relations front, he released the underwhelming (box office-wise) “Mission: Impossible III.” Then came “Valkyrie,” which most expected to completely bomb but ended up becoming a minor hit. So many questions surrounded “Knight and Day” before its release. Is Cruise still a draw? Not so much, by the looks of it. Yet he gives a credible performance. He’s one of the few actors working today that has enough charm to make such a one-dimensional character enjoyable. Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, is more annoying than charismatic. June is a ditz for the first hour of so, and even as she becomes surer of herself, her damsel-in-distress act lingers.

I’d be completely fed up with the summer of 2010 if “Inception” wasn’t next weekend. I’m so grateful a (hopefully) thoughtful, original, adult blockbuster is coming out to take away the bad memories of the past two and a half months at the cinema. “Knight and Day” is a step in the right direction compared to “The A-Team,” Prince of Persia, and Shrek Forever After. I hope, starting with “Inception,” we can pick things up and close the summer season with a bang.

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