Knight and Day (2010)


(director/writer: James Mangold; screenwriter: Patrick O’Neill/ based on a story by Mr. O’Neill; cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael;; editor: Michael McCusker; music: John Powell; cast: Tom Cruise (Roy Miller), Cameron Diaz (June Havens), Peter Sarsgaard (Agent Fitzgerald), Viola Davis (CIA Director George), Marc Blucas (Rodney), Maggie Grace (April Havens), Paul Dano (Simon Feck), Jordi Mollà (Antonio Quintana); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Cathy Konrad/Steve Pink/Todd Garner; 20th Century Fox; 2010)

Mindless escapist blockbuster comic action film, that was fun for awhile but ran out of charm before it could close the deal.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

James Mangold (“Heavy”/”Walk The Line”/”Kate & Leopold”)directs this mindless escapist blockbuster comic action film, that was fun for awhile but ran out of charm before it could close the deal.The over-the-top hokum spy spoof,based on a story byPatrick O’Neill and written by him, relies on a maniacally grinning Tom Cruise and a ditzy smirkingCameron Diaz to make music together (the co-stars also appeared together in 2001’s Vanilla Sky). The stars seem up to the challenges of such nonsense fare (but rather than sizzle as lovers, appear more childishly playful as a brother and sister act). They seem to be having fun playing their absurd roles and emulating old-fashioned Hollywood star qualities. But it’s a pic that has little going for it other that the leads acting liking goofy action heroes and such pleasant location shots that include bulls running down the streets of Seville, an exotic barren tropical island in the South Pacific and a beautiful Old-World Austrian city.After a while all the duo’s globetrotting, romantic inclinations, encounters with the genre’s usual heavies, cartoonish violence, a plane crash, car chases, a fight on a train and its inconsequential story line become wearisomeand the film loses the vigor it generated early onwhen it had a slight chance to soar into the wannabe classy Cary Grant turf of North by Northwest.

Cocky Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) is a rogue American spy who bumps into a Kansas auto mechanic, June Havens (Cameron Diaz), in the Wichita, Kan. airport, where she’s taking a plane to Boston for her younger sister’s wedding, as he’s being pursued by CIA agent Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard) because he stole an experimental high-powered battery that would be invaluable to the military (the battery is Hitchcock’s McGuffin–the way he described an unimportant plot element). Miller, if that’s really his name, uses June as a mule to smuggle the battery aboard the plane. Since the plane is occupied only by CIA agents, Miller kills them all and crash-lands the plane in a corn field. The confused June, who just thought of Miller as a fun guy to party with, now must decide whether to trust him or the CIA director (Viola Davis), Fitzgerald’s and Miller’s boss, who is heading the mission to recover the gizmo. In the meantime, the battery’s 20-year-old geek inventor, Simon Feck (Paul Dano), is in a safe house that supposedly only Miller knows about.

We soon learn that the pic’s villain is Fitzgerald, who attempts to sell the battery to ruthless Spanish arms dealer Antonio Quintana (Jordi Mollà). Now Miller, who can match Superman as an action machine in everything but flying, with June in tow, must elude the misguided CIA agents and the nasty arms dealer and does so with such ease under fire that maybe we can’t blame him for being so smug about his abs and spy skills.

It ends up looking just like another disposable Hollywood pic, one that might give you a few smiles but also a hard-to-swallow fantasy character created by Cruise–who seems desperate to still cling to the notion he’s a superstar, though with empty pics like this one the 48-year-old’s days as such a big box-office star seem numbered.