Knight and Day – Review


Cruise shows he can be as fun as the next guy; only he does it with a machine gun!

There was a time when Tom Cruise and box-office success went hand in hand. With Cruise on top of the marquee, box office grosses of $100 million or more were routine. Those days disappeared after a combination of erratic behavior and his own unique beliefs turned him into something of a self-parody. Then the world was introduced to Les Grossman, a foul-mouthed executive producer with a bad temper in the comedic summer hit Tropic Thunder, and something changed.

While the instant box-office success wasn’t assured anymore, Cruise’s small part in Tropic Thunder was enough to get him back in the good graces of a great many movie-goers. Public perception is focused on his career, instead of his personal life, and he managed to garner a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Two years later Cruise is back in a lead role. While he may not be better than ever, he’s pretty damn close to it. Knight and Day is a summer popcorn movie that never takes itself seriously, in fact, it does quite the opposite. Films like the Indiana Jonesfranchise or True Lies see their lead actors outrunning bullets, snowmobiles and giant boulders and it’s that type of a world Knight and Day takes place in. It’s a world where Cruise’s character, Roy Miller, can leap from a motorcycle, toss off his helmet, land on the hood of a moving car, talk calmly to a panicking June Havens (Cameron Diaz) through the windshield about unlocking the door and letting him inside all while shooting at bad guys who are chasing her. It’s an unbelievable world, but it’s one hell of a fun place to visit for two hours.

The film starts with Miller, a rogue secret agent, accidentally bumping into June at the airport, twice, before they realize they’re both suppose to be on the same flight. When they reach the gate, June is told that there are no seats available for her, and that she’ll have to wait until the next flight while Miller is let on board hassle free. He tells her not to worry, and that “Everything happens for a reason.” Only a few moments go by before June is approached by someone at the airport who tells her a seat has been found, and she’s able to board. Upon entering the plane she notices that it’s all but empty (with only a handful of people on board) before taking her seat.

It isn’t long before she and Miller strike up a conversation once again, though turbulence soon causes her to spill a drink and excuse herself to the restroom. While she’s in there giving herself a pep talk about how she should make a move on this guy, Miller is letting his hands and feet do the talking outside the restroom, after he’s attacked by the handful of people on board the plane, stewardess and pilots included. Oblivious to what’s going on outside, June returns to find the plane in perfect order, and Miller calm, relaxed and awaiting with two drinks. He coolly explains to her that the pilots are dead, and he’s the one who killed them, and now he’s got to go land the plane. June laughs, not believing the story for a moment; that is until Miller walks into the cockpit, and begins to land the plane.

After a rather hasty landing in a cornfield, Miller explains to June that when anyone comes to see her to ask about him, she deny any knowledge of them knowing one another, that it’s for her own good, and that she should just go along with her life as though nothing happened. Of course, the movie would be over before it started if she listened, so where would the fun in that be?

The trailer for the film is almost an identical description as what was given above, however, it doesn’t show just how great a performance Cruise gives in the film. Since playing Les Grossman it seems as though Cruise is open to just letting go and having fun with what he’s given, and that’s exactly what he seemed to be doing throughout this entire film. The aura of fun that exudes off of Cruise can’t help but rub off on the audience, which is exactly what’s needed to make this film work.

Are the characters the strongest? Not particularly, but that doesn’t matter. One of the strengths of this film is how well it pulls off not showing certain things happening. Countless times Miller and June find themselves in inescapable situations only to have Miller tell June that he’s got everything under control and not to worry. Before you know it they have escaped; you’ve seen nothing unexpected but you don’t worry about it because you’re too busy laughing at how it’s all delivered. In fact, the inexplicable is almost explained, albeit loosely, when Miller confidently tells June, “I’m good at what I do.”

The delivery of the film is vital, and Cruise and Diaz play extremely well off of one another, but it’s Cruise (spoofing his more serious action roles) who is truly the star. It’s interesting to see him riff on the same persona he has ridden to superstardom.

Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) gives this film a great look, and puts the action right in the viewers lap. His visions and quick direction help make the film flow together as well as it should in order to keep the films strengths shining bright, and its weaknesses in the shadows.

Knight and Day is a terrific popcorn film that accomplishes exactly what it attempts to and doesn’t do anything more.

Director: James Mangold
Notable Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz
Writer(s): Patrick O‘Neill

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