Fox // 2010 // 109 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // December 9th, 2010
"You're a natural."
"I got this."
En route to her sister's wedding, June (Cameron Diaz, Gangs of New York) finds herself on a curiously uncrowded flight. She strikes up a conversation with Roy Miller (Tom Cruise, Magnolia), a guy she'd literally bumped into earlier at the airport.
June thinks she might want to get to know Roy better; he's good looking, polite, and thoughtful. But before the beverage cart makes its way down the aisle, she discovers that Roy is a dangerous man: he kills everyone else on board, then crash lands the plane. He does remain calm and courteous throughout the ordeal. He apologizes to June, explains that she's now in danger and should deny ever meeting him, then drugs her and takes her home.
Suddenly, June finds herself at the center of an international cat-and-mouse game involving the search for a new and all-powerful battery. The U.S. government is after it, foreign arms dealers are after it, and only Roy knows where it is, and when June is taken for questioning, the mystery man swoops down, scoops her up -- and it's off to a series of improbable, colorful, and hare-raising adventures.
When Knight and Day was released, the reviews pretty much ranged from indifferent to negative. What was a little disconcerting, though, was how personal they seemed to be. There was a sense that at least some critics were less interested in reviewing the film than at taking potshots at Cruise, whose Scientology-and-Katie-Holmes-fueled fall from grace has been one of the most gleefully received public downswings since Idi Amin hightailed it into exile. More damning than the lukewarm critical reception was the box office: Knight and Day's domestic gross was less than two thirds of its production budget. Apparently, anti-Cruise sentiment is endemic.
It's too bad the film wasn't better received, because Knight and Day is a fun little caper, cheerfully silly and charming, and gets lots of mileage from the charisma and chemistry of its stars, whose easy, natural rapport goes a long way in helping the film succeed.
Cruise and Diaz bring an old-style Hollywood glamour to the proceedings. These two impossibly attractive people banter and flirt their way through a variety of entertainingly ludicrous action set pieces in a variety of exotic (and some not-so-exotic) locations, making Knight and Day a welcome throwback to the kind of stylish, grown-up adventure film that just doesn't get made anymore. While Diaz and Cruise might not be Tracy and Hepburn, they sometimes give off faint echoes of Grant and Hepburn (that's Cary and Audrey) in Charade, with Diaz's intelligent, if sometimes clueless, June finding her survival dependent on the almost preternaturally heroic but duplicitous Roy.
Diaz offers up another incarnation of the sweet, slightly klutzy character she played in There's Something About Mary, but she's matured as an actress. Her timing is sharp, and like Cruise, she seems to be having a lot of fun here.
Cruise's star power is in full force here, the actor diving into a neat take-off of his usual action-hero persona as the absurdly cool and capable Roy. Cruise's methodical, sometimes plastic style fits the bill just right, as he calmly takes down armies of assassins while patiently counseling June on how to protect herself, engages in witty repartee while clamped down on the hood of a car during a gun battle, and politely excuses himself from Diaz so he can kill some bad guys who've been following them. With this and Tropic Thunder under his belt, it would be nice to see Cruise doing more comedies.
James Mangold (Walk the Line) directs with a breezy, satisfying energy, happily keeping the comedy front and center. The action sequences are well-staged, silly, and so over-the-top that they work as parody. Patrick O'Neill's script is clever and fairly sophisticated, with the central plot device (the business with the battery) interesting enough to hold our attention without bogging the whole thing down with convolution.
This is Knight and Day (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy), but don't let the expansive title and promise of multi-disc goodness fool you. Two of three discs are just the DVD and digital copy. Supplemental content on the Blu-ray is awfully thin: a few generic and puffy "making of" segments with Cruise, Diaz, Mangold, and a few other cast and crew members that seem to have all been shot at the same time and chopped up to make separate featurettes; there's not a whole lot of depth here, though it might interest you to know that Cruise still prefers doing his own stunts. There's also a music video, a segment on Tom Cruise getting the Black-Eyed Peas to write a song for the film, a few short "viral videos," and a trailer.
The technical presentation is terrific, though, the 1080p transfer looking crisp and sharp, with excellent contrast and colors that pop. The main audio track is a solid DTS Master Audio 5.1 that satisfyingly blasts the loud action scenes and does a good job picking up the quieter, more subtle moments, as well.
Maybe I just expect too much, but when I see the words "Three-Disc Special Edition!" I think I'm going to be getting three discs filled with unique content -- like the Suspiria three-disc set, which gave us one disc with the film and some supplements, a second disc with an hour-long documentary, and a third disc that was a music CD. With the advent of Blu-ray and digital copies, "Three-Disc Special Edition!" too often means one Blu-ray of the film, one standard DVD of the film, and one digital copy of the film. What's the point? Why market this as a multi-disc edition when all you're really selling is the Blu-ray. As far as it goes:
1. If you have Blu-ray capabilities -- and if you're buying a Blu-ray disc, we can assume that's a given -- what do you need a standard DVD for? So you can watch the (generally) inferior copy and chuckle to yourself, "Ah, those poor people who haven't upgraded are stuck watching this all the time"?
2. As far as digital copies go, I don't know, if a film was made to look good on a big screen, how good is it really going to look on an iPod? Besides, can't you just download this stuff? Do you really need an entire disc just in case you get a hankering to watch Knight and Day on a long train ride?
A fun, funny, and satisfying action/comedy/romance, Knight and Day is well worth checking out. Cruise and Diaz shine, the action scenes are terrific, and while the lack of meaningful supplements is disappointing, the Blu-ray looks great. Highly recommended.
Not guilty, not at all.
Review content copyright © 2010 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Viral Videos
* Music Video
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* Cinema Verdict Review