Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Knight and Day

Knight and Day (God what an awful title) is being marketed as the return of Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire charm. Which, to some degree, it is. But if that’s all it wants to be, why does it attempt to be so much more?

Knight and Day is also the return of Cruise and Cameron Diaz (they made the fantastically underrated Vanilla Sky together a decade ago). The two are charming, sure, but I wish the filmmakers would rely on that charm a little more, instead of over-the-top, F/X laden action sequences.

Super spy Roy (Cruise) “accidentally” meets innocent girl-next-door June (Diaz) at an airport. The two, of course, board the same flight and engage in a witty conversation before June heads to the bathroom. Once in the leu, Cruise proceeds to kill every passenger on board (all apparently evil spies) and even the pilots. Diaz, of course, hears none of this, but oh well.

Soon the two are off running around the world, fleeing corrupt government officials. The film’s big budget can afford to dump the A-listers in places like Spain, Port Antonio, and Jamaica, but will the studio bosses simply let the scenery speak for itself? No, of course not.

Because it’s the summer, and because the movie stars Tom Cruise, you get to see implausible car chases, a plethora of explosions, half a dozen one-man-takes-down-five fight scenes and so on. Oh and there’s even a running of the bulls scene where Cruise and Diaz try to avoid the large beasts while fleeing on a Ducati. Sounds cool right? Well, the bulls look about as real as the werewolves in Eclipse so… you tell me.

It would’ve been nice to, somehow, scale back the action and let Cruise try to work his charm. I’m not going to lie, his keep-it-cool attitude is pretty funny (he maybe raises his voice once in the whole movie) but it’s nearly hidden under wasted government mumbo jumbo dialogue and plot holes the size of a bullfighting arena.

I’m giving director James Mangold some serious benefit of the doubt. Mangold is responsible for the slightly overrated Walk the Line, the exceptional 3:10 to Yuma and the nearly perfect Cop Land. And with Knight and Day, he nails a fair amount of the sharp dialogue, but he does indeed falter with his action. The film went through nearly a dozen rewrites and recastings before Cruise took it over. Basically, Mangold did as he was told.

It makes for decent summer viewing, but nothing to write home about. C-