Tom Cruise - Roy Miller
Cameron Diaz - June Havens
Peter Sarsgaard - Fitzgerald
Jordi Molla - Antonio
Viola Davis - Director George
Paul Dano - Simon Feck
Marc Blucas - Rodney
Maggie Grace - April Havens
Genre - Action/Comedy
Running Time - 110 Minutes
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
Tom Cruise is seen as a lot of things. He's an acting veteran for the past 25+ years. He's an action star. He's a dramatic actor. He's become a comedic actor. He's a Scientologist. He's a complete nutjob. He's delusional about science and the world around him. But the most important part is that he's a huge star with a ton of box office appeal. That's right everyone, Tom Cruise knows how to bring the goods to the silver screen.
Well...that was until his KNIGHT AND DAY, 2010's supposed summer action blockbuster, failed at the box office and has become Cruise's lowest grossing action film to date. With the media backlash [even after his hilarious turn as Lou Grossman at 2010's MTV Movie Awards] and reviews from critics who pretty much bashed KNIGHT AND DAY, the film did a dismal box office take in its first weekend and has dropped dramatically ever since.
Which is a shame, because the film isn't all that bad and is made for the mindless summer blockbuster season. However, there are flaws to KNIGHT AND DAY that make it a possible watch instead of a must-see event.
Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), is an FBI agent who may or may not have gone rogue, but is definitely in possession of a ultra-powered battery that everyone seems to want a hold of. He bumps into June Havens (Cameron Diaz) at the airport as she's about to catch a flight to Boston to attend her sister's (Maggie Grace) wedding. While June seems to be smitten with Roy, Roy is using June as a mule for the battery without her knowledge. On the flight, Roy is attacked by assassins and murders them all, taking June as a partner/hostage.
After some hilarity, Roy tells June that FBI agents (Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis) want this battery and that they'll tell her that he's insane and not to be trusted. Not sure who to trust at this point, June decides to go along with Roy's story, causing her to be caught up in Roy's life of espionage. Also, they fall in love...like you couldn't guess that.
KNIGHT AND DAY is mostly a fun, mindless action film that is a more comedic and cartoon-ish version of the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise [also starring Cruise]. You're caught up in the excitement, the visuals are nice, and it's well paced. Unfortunately, there's something missing about KNIGHT AND DAY that makes it a standout.
Let's deal with the positives first. The acting is very solid in KNIGHT AND DAY. Say what you want about Tom Cruise's personal life, but no one can say he's a terrible actor. In fact, he's the best part of the film and carries it quite well. We all know Cruise can handle action and he does that fantastically here, doing most of his own stunts and having fun riding his motorcycle through Spain while bulls chase him and assassins want to shoot his brains out. But Cruise also brings on the funny here, really making Roy a certifiable lunatic in terms of his actions and behavior. This makes him engaging to watch, as he's always confidence, charismatic, and definitely excited to be on screen. I wish he had better material to play off of here, but Cruise makes it work and it's a joy to watch him do what he does best.
Cameron Diaz, who I usually find pretty annoying in most films to be honest, is actually more than okay here. She plays the confused and neurotic June to perfection and actually looks pretty cute doing it. While she does have her action moments, especially towards the end, she's mainly the girlfriend/eye candy role that we usually see in action films. But she handles it well and maintains incredible chemistry with Cruise [who already worked together in 2001's VANILLA SKY]. I wouldn't mind see them do another film together.
The other actors are also very good, but they're not given much to do. I will say that Peter Sarsgaard and Marc Blucas are the standouts in the supporting roles. Sarsgaard's role is very predictable but he does the most with it. And Blucas has a funny scene with both Cruise and Diaz that's one of the better moments in the film.
The direction by James Mangold is also very good, even though it's not his best work as a director. Comparing KNIGHT AND DAY to his work on GIRL, INTERRUPTED, 3:10 TO YUMA remake, and especially WALK THE LINE, isn't really fair. But Mangold shoots the action scenes well [even though I noticed Cruise's stunt double very clearly in one shot that made me laugh] and he keeps the film light-hearted. Mangold seems more focused on the chemistry and relationship between Roy and June rather than all the exciting stuff that's around them, which doesn't hurt the film much at all. In fact, I'm glad Mangold focused more on the comedy than on the action, since it takes stale premise and adds something to it to make it a bit staler. Nice direction all around.
The action sequences are also fun, even if they are pretty much action film norms. From the running of the bulls scene, to the rooftop chase, to shootouts in a warehouse, and to dealing with explosions on an island, they're everything you'd want in a film like this. They're over-the-top and pretty implausible, but the film never takes itself all that seriously anyway, so I have no qualms.
What makes KNIGHT AND DAY suffer, however, is the poor script by Patrick O'Neill. While the film does manage to get to point A to point B to point C, it doesn't really develop the journey much to really be memorable at the end. The subplot with the battery is sort of a McGruffin, even though it is the reason why the events occur. It felt like an afterthought to me because it wasn't really the focus of the film. I was too busy wondering why June would fall in love with Roy one minute, want to beat the shit out of him the next, and then fall right back in love all over again. I don't think characters in romantic comedies are that confused.
That brings me to the characters here. The development doesn't really exist for anyone other than Roy and June. Roy is the ultimate spy - reckless, cocky, full of expertise and superhuman abilities, and always one step ahead of everyone else. You even question if the guy is a hero or a villain, especially during the first half of the film. Obviously O'Neill was focused on Roy more than anyone. June is less developed, which you can tell because she likes to talk to herself alot to explain how she's feeling so the audience can understand - i.e. lazy screenwriting. We barely share in her family life and she seems so desperate for a man that it's off-putting at times. I was never sure what to make of June. The only thing that saved the character was Diaz's performance.
And the supporting characters really get the shaft here. June's sister is barely in the film, even though the reason June goes to Boston is for her sister's wedding. Maggie Grace gets barely three minutes of screentime. Rodney, played by Blucas, seems like a foil for Roy over June's affections, but he just comes off as a likeable dolt who also happens to be a firefighter. Not much is done with him. And Fitzgerald is pretty much a predictable action character [I won't spoil it] but Sarsgaard deserved better.
I will say I did enjoy much of the dialogue, as it was witty and funny. So that's a plus.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE NOT MAKING FUN OF TOM CRUISE'S RELIGION [OKAY...ALMOST]
- Roy and June constantly bump into each other at the airport. Either it means the two are destined to be together, or one of them is a filthy, clumsy bitch who deserves to be smacked around, even if they are holding a baby in their arms!!
...Sorry. Mel Gibson likes to possess me every once in a while. Moving on...
- Roy had to deal with assassins on an airplane. If Harrison Ford was President, those bastards would have gotten off of the plane and it's be the end of that!
- Roy hit a scarecrow while landing a plane. He should be less worried about a brain and more concerned with getting better life insurance.
- Roy managed to survive being squeezed in between two cars inside of a tunnel. That's the power of Xenu, baby!
- Roy wanted a waitress to serve everyone pie inside of a diner as he held June at gunpoint. Only on The L Word does everyone get a piece of pie, Roy. Only on The L Word.
- Roy shot Rodney in the leg as he tried to save June. Man, he used to be able to take more than that. Ever since he broke up with Buffy, his boring ass got weak!
- Roy and June got cozy on a private island. Because islands in the stream, that is what they are. No one in-between, how can they be wrong?
- June followed Roy as he tried to make a deal for the battery. Some women just don't have any faith in their man. I say don't trust a ho. Never trust a ho. Hell, I won't trust a ho 'cause the ho won't trust me.
- Don't steal someone's battery. Unlike it, you won't keep going and going and going when it explodes in your face.
THE FINAL HOWL
KNIGHT AND DAY is a good action film if you don't want to think too much. Basically, perfect for summer escapism. Unfortunately, the story is pretty weak and the characters could have been developed better for the audience to care more about what they were watching. But the acting is solid [especially by Tom Cruise, who's career ISN'T over yet] and the direction is good. It'll make a good date movie and a definite rental when it's released on DVD and Blu-Ray.