Directed by: James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Jordi Mollà
What we have here is about 60 minutes worth of entertainment spread out over 110 minutes of running time. That’s simply not a good arrangement. Oh, I tried looking on the bright side. For example, I focused on the fact that at least Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz aren’t Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. That provided some comfort. But since Knight and Day really wants to be Charade (1963), it kept reminding me that as much as Cruise and Diaz aren’t Kutcher and Heigl, neither are they Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn—by a very long shot indeed. Nor for that matter is Knight and Day’s director James Mangold Charade’s Stanley Donen. In short, much comfort was not to be had.
The best that can be said of Knight and Day is that it’s sometimes passable entertainment of the most predictable kind. The worst that can be said is that it’s a sloppy, clunky movie that banks on the star power of its leading man without realizing the account is overdrawn. The days when Tom Cruise being in a picture was enough of a selling point have passed—something attested to by Knight and Day’s distant third place at the box office. It’s not really surprising, because the film makes the mistake of thinking it’s a lot cooler than it is—a malady that appears to afflict its star as well. The unfortunate part is that it didn’t have to be like this.
The opening and the setup of Knight and Day aren’t particularly clever, nor are they in the least bit fresh—but they serve to get the plot underway and to bring together June Havens (Diaz) and Roy Miller (Cruise) with a minimum of fuss. The film then appears to hit its stride with the over-the-top and darkly comic scene on board an airplane where all the passengers and crew—except for June—are out to put Roy out of the way and recover the plot’s MacGuffin. Unfortunately, the plane hits the ground and, in many respects, so does the movie.
We already know from the trailer that Roy is some kind of secret agent and that June gets dragged into his world of secret-spy stuff—which means a lot of shooting and being shot at, chasing and being chased against her will. The film knows we know this and wastes no time in establishing even a passing reason for the connection between Roy and June—apart from the fact that the script requires it, and maybe that’s enough. What transpires is mostly a series of overblown action set pieces—many of which are cursed with dicey CGI-effects work—spread over several exotic locales, interrupted every so often by nefarious plotting and mid-level romantic banter. Parts of it are perfectly adequate. But do you really want to go to a movie because it’s adequate? And while we’re at it, what does the title mean? Rated PG-13 for action violence throughout and brief strong language.