An action-comedy that begins when a small-town woman (Cameron Diaz) has a chance encounter with a mysterious man (Tom Cruise). He is either the man of her dreams or, perhaps ... her nightmares. Amid shifting allegiances and unexpected betrayals, they are swept up in a whirlwind of globe-hopping adventure and world-changing secrets.

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Spy games should satisfy fans of The Cruiser.

If James Mangold’s Knight and Day only exists so as to be an image-enhancing vehicle for its tarnished leading man Tom Cruise, then it's mission accomplished. Riffing on his loopy offscreen persona and oozing the sort of charisma that got him to the top in the first place, Cruise’s zippy, dippy licenced-to-kill rogue agent Roy Miller is the best thing about the film.

Miller is on the run from 'The Agency’ after uncovering corruption surrounding the development of the 'Zephyr’ – a self-renewing energy source with immense potential for military application. In film terms, this is the MacGuffin – the plot device upon which all the action pivots, but which really doesn’t have anything to do with anything.

Having randomly selected the unsuspecting June Havens (Cameron Diaz) in an airport lounge, Roy entangles her in his world of international arms dealers, super-assassins and wildly-ridiculous chase sequences, all while trying to protect the Zephyr inventor Simon Feck (Paul Dano) from the über-villain, G-man traitor Fitzgerald (Peter Saarsgard).

Like an armed-and-dangerous episode of The Amazing Race, Roy and June bicker and bond whilst bouncing from Boston to Spain to Austria to Jamaica. Along the way, there are plenty of interludes for both stellar stunt work (a motorcycle/car chase amidst the famous running of the bulls is a highlight) and sexual tension (Diaz waking from a drug-induced haze in a red bikini on Roy’s tropical island hideaway gives the film a primal jolt just when it’s needed). Knight and Day, for all its new-fangled accoutrements, is an old-school star-vehicle and it pulls out all stops to make the leads and everything around them look as gorgeous as possible.

Though the advance publicity would have you believe Knight and Day is a modern spin on Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (puh-leeze!), the best template for these types of films is Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone. The 1984 hit, that paired the chemistry-rich Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, was totally character-driven and seemed utterly disinterested in whatever it was that brought the leads together (a green gemstone, I think). Knight and Day gets some of these elements right – Cruise and Diaz make for a winning onscreen couple, though the attraction between them waivers in intensity and validity. (Frankly, she seems a little old to be playing the ditzy blonde one more time.)

But, after a fun opening sequence aboard an airplane that establishes Roy’s skill as both a killer and a seducer and ends with a terrifically staged wheat-field landing, the film’s second half gets mired in techno-babble – and in a film as far-fetched as Knight and Day, the last thing all involved should do is bring focus to the machinations of the story. Just as you want the sexiness and silliness to soar, Mangold and writer Patrick O’Neill allow cumbersome plotting to take centre stage – the MacGuffin takes over the movie. Further complications involving Roy’s home life, as if his happiness was paramount to audience enjoyment of the film, just makes things worse. Nearly all the goodwill the film has earned to this point dissipates and it takes a considerable amount of movie-star pizzazz from Cruise and Diaz to keep one’s attention on the screen through the clunky final 25 minutes.

Though it sells itself as a free-wheeling adventure, Knight and Day is a precisely-constructed and strategically vital opening salvo in the restoration of the 'Tom Cruise’ brand. Which makes it all the more unusual that The Cruiser, a notorious control freak, freed himself of any (credited) production responsibilities on this film. It seems he understood that above all else, he needed to be likable in this film, and it shows in his performance – audiences have never seen such an angst-free Tom Cruise. He’s not the greatest comedian in the film world but, at times, he is very funny in Knight and Day. Those long term fans that stuck by him through all the couch-jumping madness will be pleased to see him back in good form; if Knight and Day is no masterpiece, it’s still enjoyable enough to maybe win him a few new ones.

Details

1 hour 49 min
In Cinemas 15 July 2010,
Wed, 11/24/2010 - 11

Genres