Knight and Day
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Patrick O’Neil
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, and Viola Davis
When Knight and Day began, the most interesting thing I could think about with it was what the title could possibly mean. Sure, it’s typical Hollywood word play, but it was intriguing nonetheless. Tom Cruise could be the Knight in shining armor to Cameron Diaz’s sunny smile. Once it’s revealed what the title is actually referring to (some solar battery hidden in a knight figurine), there’s no mystery left.
Marketed as a summer movie for adults, Knight and Day is filled to the brim with plot cliches and one-dimensional characters almost any child would recognize. If this is the kind of stuff targeted at a mature audience, I’ll stick with movies for kids.
Director James Mangold should know better than this, and while he does bring some of the visceral thrills of his previous feature 3:10 to Yuma, none of the emotional complexity in his other films like Walk the Line or Girl, Interrupted surfaces. This really isn’t his fault, since he didn’t write the screenplay or act in the film, but it is on him that he signed up for the summer paycheck.
While with some summer escapism it is fun to get lost in the absurdity of the situations, with this it’s really just unbelievable and dull. It centers on the boy-meets-girl formula and tries to inject both adrenaline-soaked action and sun-drenched romance, failing quite miserably at the latter.
When June Havens (Diaz) is mistakenly put on a flight intended to apprehend rogue agent Roy Miller (Cruise), the two become predictably inseparable, no matter how many bodies pile up or how many times he condescends to her out of some misplaced macho bullshit. June, to the bewilderment of the audience, follows Roy’s violent adventure without any emotional consequences.
In the best no-brains action movies, we aren’t given time to care about the characters. It is this movie’s biggest failure that we do have time, and we still don’t. Despite a decent supporting cast (Viola Davis, Paul Dano), we aren’t emotionally invested in the leads or their pathetic excuse for a story. We get a few entertaining run-and-gun sequences, such as the one on the airplane near the film’s opener. However, what excitement the other scenes could have is lost because we just don’t care about the characters.
Cruise and Diaz are clearly capitalizing on their image with Knight and Day. He as the action star who must sprint for long stretches and grin coyly at his sexual conquest, and she as the confident female who isn’t being stereotyped in the action movie, but actually is. We’ve seen these roles countless times, sometimes played by these two actors.
Sometimes you look back on a movie and say it’s sad how bad it was because it had such great potential. Not many will be saying that about Knight and Day, because it was a lackluster dud from the get-go.