Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Jordi Molla
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Patrick O’ Neill
Cinematography: Phedon Papamichael
Original Score: John powell
Running Time: 109 Mins.
It’s no secret that Tom Cruise, once the world’s biggest movie star, has fallen out of favour with both critics (and perhaps more importantly) audiences alike. No longer the box office draw he once was he now seems to be clutching at straws in an effort to win back those who once loved him through stabs at serious and sombre historical thrillers (Valkyrie) that one can only imagine he hoped would attract awards buzz but ultimately didn’t, and desperate attempts at comedy that seem cheap and deeply unfunny, the Les Grossman character from Tropic Thunder who it seems is due his own film…bad idea by the way!
Clearly Cruise has realised this lightness of touch and self-parody in some senses after the Oprah debacle and all his scientology waffle is more endearing to audiences than the serious Cruise of old, or indeed the straight action star (weak M: I-3 takings tolling the seeming beginning of the end despite it being his best film in years), so what does Cruise do…choose to star in Knight and Day, a film that is every bit as action packed as any Mission: Impossible but is so crammed full of a knowingly self-referential nods to the audience we are as in on the joke as Cruise is while he flashes those pearly whites, or that’s the idea.
But wait, there’s more, you need a third leg for this formula to work, a romantic catalyst to drive the “plot”, who else could compete with the Cruise grin, why Cameron Diaz of course! An actress with the same wattage that Cruise (used to) have, and a smile to match. Plot wise that is all you need to know, for the everlasting battery that everyone is chasing is simply a macguffin and the sole reason for all the globe-trotting on offer, there are as many countries for your ticket price here as in the biggest Bond films and the set pieces to match.
If all this sounds rather pedestrian, it is because it really is, Knight and Day is as safe a bet for a film as you can get in terms of entertainment, there is set piece after set piece, be it on foot, by car, motorbike, plane, helicopter…you name it the likelihood it’s in there. Now if it sounds tired to you, then you will hardly be bowled over but if you’re willing to sit back and take in the scenery it is likely to be a ride you will like, however this hinges on one thing…Cruise. Whether you buy into his self parody as either fun or smug is the deciding factor here, for this is his show as Diaz acts as mere bystander (literally in some cases).
The first half of the film follows this frothy but fun formula to a t, hitting the right note of action/comedy/spectacle well but as the story (unwisely) takes precedent over character we are spiralled down into a case of set piece for the sake of set piece and a plot idea that kept us guessing is dropped in favour of the usual chase to save the day and you are likely to be reminded of similar, but much better films amidst a tone that upon its close seems confused having diffused a little of that goodwill the first hour built up.
So based on this evidence there is life in the old dog yet, just maybe not in a project that starts out as perfect summer fun and culminates, tellingly, in a load of bull(s)!
If you succumb to the Tom Cruise school of self-parody Knight and Day should prove a blast for you, even if it does lose track of it’s goal upon the films final third with nonsensical plot overtaking fun characters.