Fox // 2010 // 109 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // December 27th, 2010
Sometimes things happen for a reason...
It's an open industry secret that Tom Cruise is no longer a certified cash magnet at the box-office, the actor's wacky (and at times kind of creepy) behavior in the media over the last few years having killed some of his movie star credibility. Knight and Day is proof of this, opening last June to mixed reviews and a tepid $76 million domestic haul. Had the film been released five or six years ago, it would almost certainly have made around double that amount. However much like Cruise's 2008 effort Valkyrie (also the recipient of a lukewarm critical reception), Knight and Day is a superior genre picture. It's not perfect and becomes overly illogical during its second half, but for the most part it's a heap of fun. Oh, and Tom Cruise happens to be pretty darn great in it.
June (Cameron Diaz, Shrek) is headed home for her sister's wedding, running into handsome Roy Miller (Tom Cruise, Minority Report) on her flight. As the plane ascends, Roy and June begin to forge a connection, but not before Roy has to dispatch a wealth of henchmen sent to kill him. It quickly transpires that Roy is a secret agent, wrongly accused of going rogue and desperately trying to protect a powerful new energy source from falling into the wrong hands. As the CIA attempts to bring him in, Roy whisks June away, the two setting out on an adventure filled with action, intrigue, and even a little sexual tension.
Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line), Knight and Day is an infectiously fun affair, filled with the sort of enthusiasm and kinetic energy that one often finds in the better summer blockbusters. The screenplay has its deficiencies, but overall the experience of viewing this picture is one characterized by excitement and goofy charm, helped in no small part by two likable lead performances. Cruise in particular is at his crazed best, the actor combining a loopy comedic touch rather deftly with his action man persona to create a truly memorable screen hero.
Diaz and Cruise make for a compatible couple, both performers achieving an easy rapport with each other. Knight and Day has a pleasant romantic undertone simmering just below the surface; in this respect the film actually seems to mimic more classic Hollywood fare. Diaz's performance is unassuming and enjoyable (even if the script forces her character to make several moronic choices throughout) and Cruise is a jittery joy. Pumping his performance with as much mischief and vigor as possible, Cruise truly is the standout here, tossing out one liners and a parade of athletic action, all whilst maintaining a delightful twinkle in his eye. Even if the general public refuses to acknowledge it anymore, the man was born to be a screen icon.
The film scores a respectable tally of laughs, and the action beats are excellent. The highlights are the Spain set finale and a berserk car chase that occurs in the opening half, both sequences infused with a cheeky sensibility and oodles of visual panache. Mangold holds his own well here, balancing several different genres to create a genuinely entertaining multiplex cocktail. There are moments when I questioned the picture for effort (a scene in which the audience watches the lead duo escape through a drugged Diaz's eyes is amusing once, yet feels lazy the second time around), but on the whole Knight and Day achieves a commanding blockbusting value on the back of its rambunctious antics and Mangold's clinical filmmaking touch. Also at 109 minutes, the movie isn't unbearably lengthy, the film climaxing just as audience patience is beginning to fail.
The script is superb during the opening 45 minutes, but things derail as the production progresses. The plotting becomes overly silly, and the reliance on Diaz's character to act like an idiot becomes frustrating. Several set-pieces in Knight and Day are entirely reliant on June making a bum choice, her stupidity setting off a chain reaction that allows the project to kick-start another action based instance of spectacle. By the time the tale concludes, viewers will have become too wrapped up in the phenomenal onscreen vivacity for the contrived and ridiculous storytelling to spoil their glee, but it's a flaw worth mentioning none the less.
The supporting cast is sturdy, if not slightly underused. Viola Davis (Doubt) and Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan) are adequate as FBI operatives on Cruise's tail, although Paul Dano (Gigantic) is wasted as the teen genius behind the film's super powered macguffin. The musical score courtesy of John Powell is effectively bombastic, and from a photographical standpoint, the exotic globetrotting looks very assured. Overall Knight and Day marks an event picture that was unfairly overlooked this year, and I hope it attains plenty of extra profit through the home entertainment avenue.
Fox haven't exerted themselves too heavily for the DVD release of Knight and Day, this single disc edition coming across as a little soft on bonus materials. All that's been included are two featurettes (totaling a 20 minute runtime combined) and some advertisements. The first featurette is a by the numbers making of, occasionally interesting, but as with most EPK-styled materials, it lacks depth. The other portion concerns itself with Tom Cruise visiting a Black Eyed Peas gig, as the band wrote a song for the movie. It's a bit much to stomach, everyone seems to love each other and the whole thing reeks of self congratulation. Basically, the extra features blow. However the audio and video components on the release are pretty strong.
It's a satisfactory thriller. For a solid Friday night of cinematic escapism, I'd suggest you give this movie a rental.
Review content copyright © 2010 Daniel Kelly; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13