Love him or hate him, there is little denying that Tom Cruise is the consummate movie star. However in recent years his star has faded quite a bit to the point where his presence in a film no longer assures its success but possibly is a detriment to it. The fallen star has been in damage control mode for the last little bit and Knight and Day was marketed as his glorious return to form.
On the surface Knight and Day appears to have a great premise, an excellent lead cast and some thrilling set pieces reminiscent of some of Cruise’s best works. Cameron Diaz plays June an auto-shop owner from Boston who runs into a mysterious man named Roy Miller, played with his hallmark charm turned up to 11 by Cruise. Miller claims to be a secret agent and involves June in a globe trotting thrill ride.
This is familiar territory for Cruise but instead of playing Miller as the hard nosed Ethan Hunt character from Mission: Impossible he has the wattage turned all the way up and looks to be enjoying himself as he hams it up on screen. His personality is infectious as Diaz, whom I generally don’t like, is perfectly enjoyable as the understandably apprehensive June. Unfortunately despite the film have oodles upon oodles of charisma it just is not a very thrilling film.
The problems with the film can be directly attributed to writer, Patrick O’Neill. Knight and Day plays out like a TV movie of the week instead of a film starring one of America’s biggest movie stars. The script is a hodge podge of James Bond and the various comedic takes on that series of films over the years. But worst of all the viewer is always one step ahead of action, nothing is out of the ordinary and anyone who has watched any sort of action film in the last 20 years will feel clairvoyant.
The script isn’t the only issue though as director James Mangold seems entirely out of his element in Knight and Day. The car chases seem slow, the gun fights lack tension and the pace of the film feels off in many ways and that is all attributable to Mangold. I can’t help but think what a more accomplished director of these sorts of films could have done with the material. I have a feeling that Knight and Day would still suffer from the scripting issues but that a lot of those problems would have been masked in a flurry of fast paced action.
Knight and Day is acceptable Saturday afternoon entertainment, the kind you get when you are shuffling channels at three in the afternoon trying to find something to watch on out of your 4500 different channels. Its saving grace is Cruise and his delivery of Miller. It is hard not to smile when he is on screen but then again you could probably just watch the under-appreciated Mission: Impossible III and get a better viewing experience.
Personally I am disappointed that Knight and Day was not a better film, I genuinely like Cruise as a movie star and I feel that him along with a handful of others are the last of the true movie stars. I long for a day when Cruise is once again a viable name but I have a feeling his day in the sun may be fast approaching night.
3 out of 5