Movie Review: Knight & Day- A Summer Action Film That Gets Progressively More Generic but Has Enough Charm from Tom Cruise to Make it Average

Whether you love him or hate him there is no denying that actor Tom Cruise has personality. It seems the limelight can never forgive him for his outburst of craziness on Oprah or for his devoted faith as a Scientologist, but it certainly hasn’t really affected his box office draw. That’s because Tom Cruise possesses a charm that is unlike any other actor making films today and his new film Knight & Day, though a sluggish piece of generic action fluff, proves that charisma can prevent a film from being torn apart at the seams. There isn’t much in James Mangold’s new action film that is at all fresh and there are obvious signs that the subject matter could have offered better comedic and satirical opportunities, which leaves you a bit unsatisfied as the film gets progressively worse during its final presentation. Though Mangold has definitely had better films, including his revisionist western remake 3:10 to Yuma and his academy award nominated film Walk the Line, Knight & Day is not his worst, and by that standard isn’t yet the summer’s worst action film. However, there are many elements about Knight & Day that are clearly weak, including the aging Cameron Diaz, and simply doesn’t deliver a consistently enjoyable summer action flick despite Cruise’s undeniable presence and charm.

The spy genre has a pretty straight forward and expected delivery and that can be used as an advantage when layering comedy into a script that has certain expectations. This worked for the likes of Airplane for melodramas and Tropic Thunder due to our familiarity with the egos in the film industry. Knight & Day could have been the next one to be an action film along with tons of musings on the spy genre formula, but fails to take advantage of such a good opportunity. The film centers around June Havens, a fairly uninspiring Cameron Diaz, who ends up in the middle of a secret agency war against a seemingly mentally unstable Agent named Roy Miller (Tom Cruise). Roy needs to protect a highly powerful new energy source from getting in the wrong hands, while at the same time protecting June from getting killed every time she makes one erroneous decision after another. But seriously who could be as stupid as June, who continuously puts herself and Roy in danger because she just doesn’t use her brain? It seems as though the writers just stuck with the idea that the girl should be dimwitted rather than just parodying the typical spy genre’s elements to make it entertaining. Of course the film revolves around an insider traitor, though the film never really gives you any sense of ambiguity taking a great ingredient of surprise from the entire experience. Knight & Day is just a straightforward action film; no thought or brains needed as the car explosions and body count keep distracting you from the lack of inventiveness.

The moments where the film plays around with familiar visuals and expected scenarios in Knight & Day is when the film is at its best and usually features the calm and collected Tom Cruise. Especially in the opening action sequence of an airplane crashing after Tom Cruise has killed the entire crew and passengers (don’t worry they’re all bad) and his ability to deliver his lines makes the situation more humorous than it was initially written in dialogue. Another hilarious moment is when we’re locked in the Diaz point of view, where everything is blurry due to being drugged, and getting momentary visual lapses into what is going on with Tom Cruise’s character such as hanging upside down and swinging in a dark interrogation room. But such fleeting moments in Knight & Day are merely just anecdotes to more than slightly generic action film. As the film progresses the action gets less engaging and too expected. Compare the last chase scene to the first one and within the former there is a greater use of Tom Cruise’s personality lighting up the more average moments. Unfortunately Cameron Diaz is on the screen a majority of the time and she’s not only looking as though she lacks life but seriously reminds us that she can’t act and was strictly given roles based on her looks.

Perhaps it isn’t all Diaz’s fault that the film lags and inevitably brings down the entire momentum of the film. The writing isn’t extraordinary and borders on cliché quite a bit, while James Mangold’s action directing seems a tad choreographed unlike his exhilarating and real action scenes in 3:10 to Yuma. The rest of the cast almost seems dead in comparison to their acting capabilities. This includes the talented Paul Dano from Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood fame as well as the great Peter Sarsgaard who seems there for a pay check more than anything else. Don’t blame Peter for seeming rigid because it’s really the character within the script and how it’s written. Knight & Day is another one of those films that concocted a great lead character and failed to flourish out the one’s around him. Tom Cruise definitely has the charm familiar to most audiences in the forms of Top Gun, Jerry Maguire, and Rain Man and luckily holds the film up in the more average area instead of it plummeting into total failure. With an undeveloped supporting character arsenal, progressively worse action sequences, and wasted opportunities with genre, Knight & Day is really another summer film that you should see if you’re bored and not because it’s really any good.

James Mangold has been known to develop better films even though Knight & Day is generally not his worst. As the summer progresses there are usually a couple of dips in the quality of films one is able to choose from and Knight & Day is a better choice than say Killers. However, Knight & Day ends up being a reminder that the summer of 2010 is one of the worst movie outing summers in recent memory, offering more and more generic and unoriginal options that are also lacking fresh dialogue, intriguing narratives, and relatable characters. Luckily Tom Cruise is the main reason to this film and if you just happen to be a fan than he won’t disappoint. But if you’re looking for an original and possibly satirical take on the spy genre than it unfortunately will feel strained and fails in the end to be thoroughly engaging. Sometimes a film needs more than just a charismatic lead actor and is able to offer all of the elements that make a film great; the main attribute being the story.

Grade: C

One Response to “Movie Review: Knight & Day- A Summer Action Film That Gets Progressively More Generic but Has Enough Charm from Tom Cruise to Make it Average”
  1. Thick says:

    I loved this movie. It fun, silly, exciting etc.

    Kind of like True Lies.

    I would of rated it a “B” at least.

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