Knight and Day is basically another "big, dumb summer movie," with too many pointless action sequences and poorly-developed characters. However, Tom and Cameron's general affability makes the movie a "light and breezy way to while away a couple of hours."
In the film, which opens today, Cameron Diaz plays June, the owner of a Boston garage who winds up on a plane with Tom Cruise's secret agent character, Roy, and a few other men. She goes to the bathroom, and though she never hears gunshots, when she returns to her seat Roy has killed everyone on the plane including the pilots. The plane crash lands and Roy convinces June that FBI agents are after them and sticking with him is her only chance of survival. After authorities warn her that he's actually a dangerous fugitive she isn't sure who to trust, yet still winds up following him all over the world, and getting involved in a series of obligatory chase scenes and explosions.
Cruise and Diaz's characters, says one critic, are just "hastily sketched cartoon characters" — he's doing a send-up of his action-star persona, and she's playing the generic semi-ditzy girl next door. And though one reviewer says, "the comedy seems to generate naturally" between them, another says their romance comes out of nowhere and they seem "more brother and sister at play than lovers in heat." As many critics note, the film is very similar to Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl's The Killers, which came out a few weeks ago and was universally panned. Overall, Knight and Day is just another boring entry into the new action rom-com genre — and according to The New York Times, The Killers may actually be a "marginally better movie."
Below, the reviews:
"Knight and Day" aspires to the light charm of a romantic action comedy like "Charade" or "Romancing the Stone," but would come closer if it dialed down the relentless action. The romance part goes without saying after a Meet Cute contrived in an airport, and the comedy seems to generate naturally between Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. But why do so many summer movies find it obligatory to inflict us with CGI overkill? I'd sorta rather see Diaz and Cruise in action scenes on a human scale, rather than have it rubbed in that for long stretches, they're essentially replaced by animation.
Knight and Day is a light and breezy way to while away a couple of hours on a hot summer evening. It's a quintessential movie hybrid: a romantic thriller with exciting high-speed chases, brisk comedy and exotic scenery. And, perhaps best of all, stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz make a surprisingly charming couple.
If you doubt Cruise's skills in the star department, "Knight and Day" should make you a believer. It's hardly a perfect film, not even close, but it is the most entertaining made-for-adults studio movie of the summer, and one of the reasons it works at all is the great skill and commitment Cruise brings to the starring role.
A genial romantic thriller that very much wants to be in the mold of such Alfred Hitchcock entertainments as "North by Northwest" and "To Catch a Thief," or even Stanley Donen's "Charade," "Knight and Day" is inevitably light on plausibility but, with Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano joining Cruise, it is strong in the acting department.
"Knight and Day" is also fortunate to have James Mangold in charge. As he demonstrated in "Walk the Line" and "3:10 to Yuma," Mangold is one of the few current directors who has an instinct for reasonably intelligent popular entertainment. His films don't end up on 10-best lists, but you walk out of them feeling you've gotten what you paid for, and that is an increasingly rare commodity.
The movie's a piece of high-octane summer piffle: stylish, funny, brainless without being too obnoxious about it, and Cruise is its manic animating principle. Whenever he zigs or zags, the film races to keep up with him, jettisoning cars, helicopters, and human beings as necessary. At the same time, "Knight'' tweaks the actor's "Mission Impossible'' seriousness by giving us Roy Miller, a super-spy so capable it makes him giddy with delight. Roy's high on himself, and for the first time in a Tom Cruise movie, we're meant to laugh. "I'm pretty good at what I do, June,'' he tells the movie's heroine, and the gag is that for once Roy's being modest.
But this isn't just "The Tom Cruise Show." As an ordinary woman inadvertently caught up in a world of jet-setting espionage, Diaz makes a delicious comedic and romantic foil to Cruise's Roy. Yes, at first she's a little freaked out by the number of people who are dropping like flies all around him — Roy's aim is deadly when he wants it to be — but she soon shows herself to be a capable partner. "You've got skills, June," Roy tells her, admiringly, after she shoots out the tires of a pursuing car. Compare her performance to that of Katherine Heigl's ditz in the similarly themed "Killers." Diaz is no damsel in distress here. And her gumption lends fizz to an already effervescent production.
Sadly, everything is much simpler than it seems. Questions over Cruise's intentions give way to a transcontinental chase in pursuit of the world's most amazing battery, with Diaz just whisked along for the ride. Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis are underutilized as Cruise's adversaries, Paul Dano lets a scraggly mustache carry his performance as the McGuffin-maker, and the plot doesn't twist or turn so much as link one poorly orchestrated action setpiece to the next. Throughout it all, Cruise doesn't allow even the single bead of sweat that dropped in Mission: Impossible to escape his pores; he's clinging hard to that last rung of superstardom, hoping no one will notice his hand is slipping.
There are several reasons to assume "Knight and Day" is a smarter-than-average action comedy. It was made by James Mangold, whose resume includes the Oscar-winning "Walk the Line." Leads Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are seasoned experts who can seduce audiences with little more than a smile. And Patrick O'Neill's script is so convinced of its own cleverness, you'll be halfway through before you wonder if you're missing something.
You're not. Despite its impressive pedigree and unshakable assurance, "Knight and Day" is nothing more or less than an average popcorn flick. That's not to say you won't have a decent time, just that you'll have forgotten it by the next morning.
Star quality can cover a lot of plot holes, even the craters that trip up Knight and Day. Luckily, director James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) keeps his appealingly athletic stars, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, so avidly on the go you'll probably forgive the plot's resemblance to Killers, the Ashton Kutcher-Katherine Heigl caper now stinking up a theater near you....
You can't discount the kick of watching an overqualified cast go slumming for the pure adrenaline thrill of it. But Knight and Day rises or falls on how you feel about the body-and-soul chemistry between Cruise and Diaz, who first teamed in 2001's Vanilla Sky. It strikes me that their teasing and one-upmanship are more brother and sister at play than lovers in heat. Cruise and Diaz are in it for the action rush. You appreciate how hard they knock themselves out, but where's the sizzle?
The producers assume that audience interest in movie stars is bigger than audience interest in characters. The conclusion is overdetermined, since Roy and June are such flimsy constructions. Unfortunately, sustained cranial study also leads to the awareness that Cruise and Diaz share little besides visual square footage. Certainly nothing intrinsic about Diaz's June - characteristically sunny, casual, and sprawling the line between wholesome lass and sexy mess - appears to interest Cruise's typically precise, controlled, impermeably well-groomed Roy, who, even when being ''funny,'' comes across as a man on a mission. The duo emit no whiff of mingled sexual musk as they collide. Yet here the pair are, fatefully bound together by predicaments she didn't ask for (which only partly accounts for why she shrieks so girlishly in extremis), and which he doesn't have time to explain as he kills bad guys with ostensibly amusing efficiency. At least they're not Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher in Killers.
The primary miscalculation in the film, directed by James Mangold from a screenplay by Patrick O'Neill, comes with those two stars. In a film that makes no pretense at the plausibility of any of the action, its makers are counting heavily on audience involvement with Cruise and Diaz. But the film never gives them quiet moments together. The film's one romantic line comes late in the game, when Diaz's June Havens, feeling the effects of a truth serum, declares that she'd like to have sex with Roy.
Then there's the action. When one begins their film with a plane crash — featured in every TV spot — one has nowhere to go but to up the ante with each successive sequence: a chase on freeways, a shootout in a factory, an airplane bombing a tiny island atoll and more chases through narrow European city streets. The film never establishes any rhythm to build to these sequences. Action simply follows action in a tiresome manner.
For that matter, the film never establishes a logical reason for Diaz to be involved at all. In the opening, June keeps bumping into Roy at the Wichita, Kan., airport, though one realizes Roy plans each "accident." Against all reason, June is seated on the same plane with Roy despite the fact this is a decoy flight with only bad guys aboard. Why is she there?
...This is a big, dumb summer movie with no apparent ambition other than plugging a hole in a studio's schedule because its faded star happened to be available for a few weeks.
Am I being too tough? Sure, comic action thrillers - even great ones like "North by Northwest" and "Charade," both fumblingly referenced here by director James Mangold ("Walk the Line"), not to mention "True Lies" - require a certain suspension of disbelief. "Knight and Day," though, is one of those movies that requires you to accept that every single time a character is presented with a choice, he or she will make the worst and most inexplicable one.
This would possibly be more forgivable if the stars were given actual characters to play, rather than being forced to coast on screen personas (he's cocky, she's ditzy) that seem increasingly dated for Cruise, who will turn 48 next month, and Diaz, who will be 38 the following month. It would also help if they were given some dialogue that was actually funny, or at least more clever than the lines provided to Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl in the distressingly similar "Killers" from earlier this month. It also wouldn't hurt if a few surprises were sprinkled into an ultra-predictable plot that seems to have been cranked out by a computer screenwriting program without significant human input.
A loud, seemingly interminable, and altogether incoherent entry in the preposterous and proliferating "action-comedy" genre, it stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz as a pair of hastily sketched cartoon characters hurtling from plane crash to car chase to further car, helicopter and motorcycle chases, one involving stampeding bulls...
So what is missing? Oh, I don't know - wit, fun, sexual tension, risk, originality. Maybe one or two other things. But will anyone notice? It is just possible that "Knight and Day" will earn some admiration because it is not a sequel or a spinoff and employs two stars who refuse to act like or resemble teenagers. The same might be said for "Killers," of course, which was pretty much forgotten the day after it arrived in theaters a few weeks ago. "Knight and Day" may do better because of its superior pedigree and its noticeably greater expense (All those locations! All that C.G.I.!), but "Killers," which stars Ashton Kutcher as the superassassin and Katherine Heigl as the shrieking blonde, is a marginally better movie.