Knight and Day

This painfully generic Tom Cruise vehicle apes both the Mission Impossible franchise and Mr. & Mrs. Smith in the same breath. Cruise is a c.i.a. agent with delusions that he’s both reckless and debonair. Also stars Cameron Diaz—as a woman who unwittingly becomes ensconced in some sort of scheme Cruise concocts, or is himself caught up in—along with Peter Sarsgaard (as a colleague of Cruise’s; a phoned-in performance if ever there was one) and Paul Dano as a boy genius who has invented a perpetual power source no bigger than a C-size battery, a device for whose possession Eastern European arms dealers are jostling with Cruise et. al. There’s a lot of highfalutin’ glamorous globe-trotting; chases galore—both airborne and on land, including one on a train—and a heavy helping of silly, flirty jokes which are, of course, echoed later in the film as punch lines to some truly awful jokes. Just about every narrative turn is telegraphed from the outset making this just as predictable a film as Marie Antoinette. To resort to automobile analogies: this is a vehicle that laughs in the face of peak oil, a vehicle so poorly constructed that you hope it might reverse over one of the marquee-name actors—the fatality would have been a narrative high point, something to overcome the mainstream tedium—but, agonisingly, it never does. It also doesn’t provide any sort of post-couch-jumping comeback for Tom Cruise: donning a fat-suit for Tropic Thunder was far more hilarious and entertaining than anything in the entirety of this picture. Director James Mangold, who has made several very good films in the past, including Walk the Line and Girl, Interrupted, may have been replaced by a short-circuiting movie-director robot (set to “generic action-rom-com”) on the set of this travesty. Someone should probably look into that…

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4 thoughts on “Knight and Day

  1. I agree the film is painfully generic, but I found it interesting for two reasons: Tom Cruise’s persona here is far more controlling and perverse than the film wants to admit, in a way which reflects precisely the sort of image problems that presumably led him to sign up for the film in the first place. And the deliberate use of black-outs to jump from one bit of plot to another with no bridging (via Tom’s lovely date-rape drugs, mmmm) reminds me of The Hangover’s solution, or rather “solution”, to the problem of coming up with an innovative story: don’t bother, just have lots of stuff going on and a reason for your characters not to know what happened, and leave your audience to do the work for you. How to be formulaic and post-modern simultaneously. A new trend?

    For all of which, I also have to say that I did manage to enjoy it. I was in the right mood. Some films would have killed that mood dead. This one let me laugh at it. That’s a few rungs above a travesty in my book.

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