Jun 2010 22

The top of the A-list doesn’t go much higher than Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Both of the stars of Knight and Day have topped the highest paid actors list for their gender. Lately, through a series of missteps in PR both have seen their star status dim. Is this the beginning of a comeback for the two?

June Havens (Cameron Diaz) is your every day girl, except for the fact that she is extremely beautiful, and she loves to restore classic cars. So, let’s go ahead and strike that, and say that June is presented to us as an everyday girl with a series of quirks.

While in Wichita to pick up parts to restore her father’s old Pontiac GTO to give to her sister as a wedding present, she bumps into the handsome Roy Miller.  Sparks fly between the two, and it leads to an encounter between the two on their flight back to Boston.  While freshening up to bolster herself to make a move, Miller is outside dealing with agents who want to kill him. The events lead to a series of deaths, a crashed plane, and an exclamation of “I shot the first pilot then he accidentally shot the second pilot. One of those things…”

What ensues next for the couple is a series of unfortunate events that take them to places all over the world. Is Miller a spy gone rogue or a misunderstood hero?

Knight and Day is every bit as formulaic as it sounds, but this does not detract from its entertainment value. The film is very much meant to be formulaic, and it is very self-aware of the fact.  The film manages to play with the formula a bit, and embraces the over the top nature of the film.

One of the clever things that impressed me about the film was its ability to explain away improbable events. June and Roy are caught in an inescapable situation? No problem, since the story is told through the eyes of every-woman, June, she does what anyone else would do, she passes out.   It is a clever storytelling device that moves the flow of action along nicely, and keeps us firmly grounded in its universe.

The real attraction here though, is its stars, Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise.  I, like many others, have grown weary of both of the performers through the past years. Diaz has not wowed me in a role in a long time, and Cruise scared away the majority of America with his couch jumping and Scientology proselytizing.  The great news is that both actors prove how they made their way to the top in the first place.

Tom Cruise is just the right amount of dashing mixed with a splash of crazy. Cruise who has been depicted by the media as a bit manic the past few years, seems to embrace that quality in his performance, in what is a tailor made action role for the veteran actor.

Cameron Diaz is likely to win the hearts of many men, without alienating the women in the audience. Diaz while strikingly beautiful still tends to have a girl next door quality that endears the audience to her plight.

The biggest flaw of the film seems to be the over the top special effects it uses. It seems to be a growing trend in Hollywood lately to have abnormally bad green screen work.  Special effects are getting better all of the time, and when they are created this bad, it becomes very easy to spot. There will be times in the film where your suspension of disbelief will be shockingly jarred by horrid green screen. Luckily, it doesn’t detract too much from the film.

I’ve been asked many times what makes a successful popcorn flick for me. It all comes down to characters. There is a formula for a reason, but it can only be successful when it is twisted the right way, and has characters you can relate to, and/or enjoy.  It makes all the difference between a movie like Knight and Day, and this year’s earlier comedy in the same vein, Killers.

Knight and Day will be a great movie to go see for the casual theater patron. There is nothing in the film that will outright shock or displease anyone. It is the quintessential popcorn flick, you know where the film is heading, but can still enjoy the outcome.

Grade: B+

Another take from Aarti:

Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise star in this mostly entertaining summer popcorn flick.  The two veteran actors had good chemistry throughout this film which surprised me as I would never have put these two together.

Unfortunately, as far as the plot goes, well, let’s just say its your run of the mill action movie meets romantic comedy nonsense.  Tom Cruise’s Roy is a spy that has supposedly gone rogue, and June is a ditzy blonde that he meets at an airport, right before he kills everyone aboard their flight and crashes their plane.  After this he proceeds to kill more people, shoot one of June’s friends and still manages to charm her into falling in love with him.  Really?  As a female, I can say that if I met a random stranger that proceeded to kill numerous people within a few hours of meeting him, my initial emotion would not be love, it would be either fear or sheer terror.  Apparently the writers of this script do not agree with me.  The absolutely ludicrous plot aside, both the actors do their best with what they are given.  

If you want to be intellectually stimulated, this is not the movie for you. But if you want to be mindlessly entertained for a couple of hours with many action scenes and sometimes witty banter, then KNIGHT AND DAY is definitely the right choice.

Knight and Day is a B-

Another Take From Zac:

Knight and Day finds Tom Cruise in a familiar role, super spy, but to keep things fresh he adds the always fun Cameron Diaz to a solid and funny script that while cheats a few too many time provides a great character for Cruise too embody and for us to enjoy.

Things open in an Omaha (?) airport where both Roy (Cruise) and June (Diaz) are both trying to catch a plane to Boston and they not so coincidentally keep pumping into each other.  After June is kept off Roy’s and her flight for being over booked, she is allowed on after a phone call from the government who is tracking Roy’s movements.  Here is the catch, the plane is more or less empty and Roy seems very on edge with his few fellow passengers.  After some shenanigans on the plane and beyond, Roy and June end up avoiding the authorities as Roy whips them around the world in the hopes of saving a top secret mission.

I know this is all vague and what not but the film does a nice job of keeping you guessing and I don’t want to ruin the surprise.  The film moves along at a fine pace with Cruise providing plenty of laughs and has a great back and forth with Diaz.  The film is also full of action set pieces taking us across the globe and using all sorts of interesting ideas and conventions.  That said, as fun and entertaining as the film is it feels like it is missing that special something to take it over the top and be a truly great action film.

The effects are solid, the action is inventive, but things might be a bit too CGI heavy for their own good.  The films best moments though are the little character beats that litter the film and the subtle moments between the two leads.

James Magnold gets some great work out of his two great leads but I have to give him credit for taking a potentially tired concept, Cruise as super spy, and keep it fresh and fun.  Patrick O’Neill’s script is also deserving of much of the films success as they are constantly feeding Roy with great lines and moments to show off Cruise’s comedy charms.  The one hang up I do have with the film though is that it cheats us out of way too many cool and interesting scenes by telling the story through only the characters eyes.  What I mean by that is that we only see what June sees and as June gets knocked out on a number of occasions we are whisked out of overly sticky situations without a natural conclusion.  Instead Roy will knock June out and we see only glimpses of their escape and never really know what the hell happened for them to get out of their messes.  And while it works for a laugh or two, I would much rather have seen the thrilling escape tactics of Roy.

I have already laid praise on the cast but it can’t go without saying enough how great Cruise is here.  The smile and the charm never go away and he plays kind of to potentially crazy with ease giving Roy this manic and likable appeal.  Diaz still looks good for the camera and handles the action as well and she does a fine job as our guide and our eyes as we go through the story.  Paul Dano does some fun, if a tad over the top, work in the film when he shows up and it would have been nice to have had him around a bit more.  Peter Sarsgaard is usually one of my favorites but he doesn’t get a whole lot to do or anything terribly creative to play with and that is a shame.

In the end, Knight and Day is a fun and fast adventure film that has plenty of action, tons of humor, great chemistry between the leads, and a fantastic lead role for Cruise.  The film is missing that special something to take it over the top and there are far too many stereotypical action beats and throwback lines, but Cruise’s charisma should win over most as he continues to have a fine run of roles over the last few years.  Knight and Day continues the solid trend of action flicks for the summer but fails to really blow the socks off the audience with something truly incredible.

Knight and Day is a B


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