Knight and Day

26 Jul

Title: Knight and Day
Year: 2010
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Patrick O’Neill
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Grace, Paul Dano, Marc Blucas, Viola Davis, Jordi Molla
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sequences of action violence throughout, and brief strong language
Runtime: 109 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%

This project went through a lot of changes to get to be what we have today, a huge number of writers contributed to the script which was first named ‘Trouble Man’, then ‘Wichita’ and finally Knight and Day, director Tom Dey, who directed this year’s pretty bad Marmaduke, was at one point attached to direct with Chris Tucker and Eva Mendes in the two lead roles, but then Cameron Diaz came on board, and so did James Mangold, only to have people as different as Adam Sandler and Gerard Butler be rumored as the lead male, and then finally Tom Cruise came on board, after ditching two other projects for this one since he deemed them too similar to his Mission: Impossible films, one of those two projects was The Tourist, which is currently in post-production with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in the lead roles, and the other one was Salt, another spy thriller which, after Mr. Cruise dropped out, had the lead role re-written to fit a female and had Angelina Jolie come on board, that film was just released a couple days ago and is better than this one, and my guess is that The Tourist will be superior, as well.

That’s not to say that Knight and Day is bad, I just wanted to illustrate the changes this film has gone through, and I’m sure there were many more I read before but have now forgotten, and that the order of the ones I did mention isn’t really that accurate, but yeah, this one went through a lot and this film, in the end, is just a formulaic action-comedy-romance, a sort of breezier Mr. & Mrs. Smith if you will (and that’s the third project with Ms. Jolie I’ve mentioned now) and as such it’s quite okay, it’s just good summer fun, and, contrary to popular belief, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are still cool to watch, actually, maybe ‘cool’ isn’t really the right word, but I still find them charming, and that’s all any two leads need to be to carry a film like this between explosions and car chases, and if you had, like me, seen Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher in the horribly boring Killers just a couple weeks before seeing this one you knew it could have been seriously worse.

The thing is that in Knight and Day, like in pretty much every big summer blockbuster films for the past few years, even if you have two charismatic leads who can really be good just playing off each other, and even if you add a director like James Mangold into the mix, and he has done some pretty good stuff, there’s still a need for Hollywood to throw in way too many loud action sequences that are full of CGI, it’s not that I hate CGI, even though it may seem that way if you revise my last few reviews of these sort of films, but it’s just that CGI is now being used not to augment a scene but just to fill space and try and make something look flashy, when, nine times out of ten, all it does is clog it all up, this could have been wonderful as a rom-com with a bit of human action, and by that I mean both simpler fights and more sexy stuff, but instead the studio figures it’s summer and that audiences love stuff blowing up so they go all Michael Bay on our asses, when they should have figured out years ago that we as audiences have grown seriously smart, which is why Inception is currently working the way it is.

But still, this film kind of worked for me, it could have worked much better, that’s for sure, but what I love is that the reason this worked for me was precisely because of Mr. Cruise and Ms. Diaz, and their individual charm and chemistry together, I like that’s the reason because many detractors of the film are having a fieldtrip saying these two guys can’t open a movie anymore, and I think that’s false, yes this film didn’t do great business, but I don’t think it’s because of the leads, I’m guessing that next year when Mission: Impossible IV opens it will do great business, especially with Brad Bird as director, and, as for Ms. Diaz, let’s not forget that a couple years ago she delivered What Happens in Vegas which, even though wasn’t great, was a commercial success with worldwide grosses of nearly $220 million on a $35 million budget, and she has The Green Hornet coming next year which I’m guessing will do real well, so yes, I think they aren’t the reason why this one flopped, or at least not the whole reason which is what everyone is saying.

Mr. Cruise’s character has something some guys wants, Ms. Diaz’s character stumbles upon him and then they are both running from the FBI, but the plot here really is irrelevant, it just has to be mindless fun, and because we have these two actors as our leads it works, they sell it to us, yes, it is silly, but they seem to be in on that too, which makes it that much more fun, there are huge chases, there are beautiful locations (Spain! Jamaica!) and some quite okay comedy bits, but that all works because of these two guys, Tom Cruise still has ‘it’, I think he misplaced ‘it’ for a bit a couple years ago, but I think he has it back, and Ms. Diaz is still lovely as hell, she always has been really, and yes, there is far too much CGI for my taste in this one, but at least there’s no 3D, I just wish the action could have been replaced by more scenes of these two together just interacting like humans, without the explosions.

Grade: B-

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