Friday, August 6, 2010
Knight and Day *
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz
Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Mollà, Viola Davis, Paul Dano
Marc Blucas, Celia Weston, Dale Dye
When thinking of Knight and Day, the word "throwback" might come to mind but it's definitely not the word that best helps describe it.
It reminds us of a throwback because we understand the film wanted to be something in the tradition of The African Queen or Charade; a show for grownups featuring two big movie stars who romance each other while running away from peril.
In execution though the movie feels more like a bad TV pilot, done just to pair Diaz and Cruise (who had been wickedly good together in Vanilla Sky, her more than him, but still there was something there).
This time around the tables are turned and it's Cruise who's in control as he plays Roy Miller, a seductive rogue spy who teams up with unsuspecting ditzy civilian June Havens (Diaz) as he tries to clean his good name from the people who framed him...or so we think.
After meeting "by accident" in an airport, Roy takes a liking to June (some might call it plain old stalking) and spends most of the movie trying to convince her he's a good guy trying to do his best to protect an important weapon designer (Dano in full geeky glory).
She's approached by an FBI agent (Sarsgaard) and his boss (Davis) who tell her, Roy is in fact an agent who lost his mind...
But who to believe?
The film in a way acts like an analogy for Tom Cruise's latter days career. On one side we have Cruise trying to remind us how he's the irresistibly charming movie star we always thought he was, this part is essentially conveyed by Miller, who needs to do not more than flash his million dollar smile and scoff (in that very Tom Cruise way) to get away with anything.
On the other side we have what seems to be the voice of reason in the shape of the FBI who informs us that despite our best knowledge this man is in fact insane. This could very well represent, well, our opinion of what Cruise has been doing for the past seven years; meaning action after action to convince us something's not quite working up there.
So on a very basic level the film is an endurance test of how much Cruise you can take. If you think he's an obnoxious midget you'd be better off watching something else because besides the whole lotta Tom we get, the plot also asks us to push the boundaries of coherence in order to accept what's going onscreen as something remotely real.
There is a recurring gag throughout the film where Roy drugs June, mostly to move locations without her having a panic attack, which are represented visually by a series of mostly blurry snippets that give us an idea of what the hell is going on.
We see Roy hanging upside down, Roy on a plane, Roy on a boat etc...the difference between this and say something like North by Northwest (another example of polar opposites in a cross continent adventure) is that we don't care where June will wake up next, or if she'll even wake up at all.
Deep inside we know everything will turn out well for these two and the movie fails to raise even a second of real excitement, thrills or even fun.
The one thing that remains a mystery throughout the film is what got Sarsgaard and Davis to star in this?