Tom Cruise’s reputation has taken a bit of a battering in recent times. His couch jumping, out burst against psychology, and leaked Scientology videos have dented his popularity. When movie stars depend on their “brand” such antics can definitely cause problems. Having said that, Mission Impossible 3 proved to be quite entertaining and a reasonable box office hit so perhaps the movie going public care less about Tom’s off screen behaviour and more about a good night at the cinema. Tropic Thunder added further weight to the idea that the star could regain his popularity and resume his regular schedule of hits.
This summer saw the arrival of the latest attempt to hit big with audiences with Knight and Day. The movie is an attempt to combine the spectacular action and stunts of the Mission Impossible franchise with a lighter feel and comedy flair displayed in Tropic Thunder (albeit without going nearly as broad and bawdy). It is directed by James Mangold who has a pretty good track record of decent films such as “Copland”, “Girl, Interrupted”, and “3:10 to Yuma”, most of which seem to have had trouble connecting with audiences. The exception to this would be “Walk the Line” which hit big with the public and was partly responsible for the resurgence of the biopic.
Kinight and Day appears to be more of a “3:10 to Yuma” than a “Walk the Line” in that it appears to have met with middling success, decent but unspectacular box office and a muted though not entirely unfavourable critical response, however I believe that like “3:10 to Yuma” (a quite good western with a memorable performance from Ben Foster) it really deserves more credit than it has received.
Curise plays Roy Miller, a government agent involved in protecting a scientist and his invention from dirty colleagues. Cameron Diaz plays June Haven, a vintage car restorer who gets tangled up in Roy’s world.
The plot is thin as the script skips between action set pieces spending as little time as it can on character and set up. A device is used involving Roy regularly drugging June which leads to quick cuts establishing only the basic information required to get to the next scene. The idea that Roy drugs June whenever he needs to could be quite distasteful as it risks objectifying June. The questionable nature of this act adds to the generally bizarre behaviour of Roy who seems quite unhinged almost from the start. This actually works quite well for Cruise whose aforementioned public antics have lent him a slightly bizarre air to start with and is further aided by the actors well known “intense” style. When June is terrified of what Roy’s intentions may be we as an audience can fully appreciate her position. The drugging of June simply seems like one more step in a pattern of stalker-like behaviour. I actually enjoyed the questionable nature of Roys character and felt it added to the humour and the excitment of the action as I was genuinely unsure of how far he would go.
While Cameron Diaz’s June is more grounded her character is equally light weight. A passion for restoring vintage cars is about all we are given as character development and clearly exists for the express purpose of proividing an excuse to include some stunning cars. Diaz largely succeeds in making June a likeable presence and sells most of the more extreme situations.
Despite the patch-work plot and simple characters the film worked for me as a roller coaster ride of action. Always clearly staged, the action scenes are a lot of fun with Roy executing some incredible stunts with a few laughs sprinkled through out.
It’s no Inception but for an entertaining couple of hours I think you can do a lot worse than Knight and Day.