Cruise crashes in nonsensical "Knight and Day"

Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:34pm EDT
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By Kirk Honeycutt

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Compared to secret agent Roy Miller, James Bond is a risk-averse, low-profile kind of guy.

In "Knight and Day," Roy thinks nothing of leaping between fast-moving cars, diving off buildings, taking on dozens of bad guys at once or exchanging coy dialogue with his female co-star while ducking barrage after barrage of bullets. But then again, an audience will think nothing about this either because the stunt doubles and CG effects are all too obvious. With Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz as the stars, no harm will ever come to the heroes; their hair won't even get mussed.

As an over-the-top "Mission: Impossible" episode featuring exotic locales and carefree banter, "Knight" no doubt will bring in crowds looking for nonstop action, especially with those stars. But the miscalculations are considerable, which might cause the movie to leave a lot of box office coin on the table when all is said and done. The Fox film opens Wednesday.

The primary miscalculation in the film, directed by James Mangold from a screenplay by Patrick O'Neill, comes with those two stars. In a film that makes no pretense at the plausibility of any of the action, its makers are counting heavily on audience involvement with Cruise and Diaz. But the film never gives them quiet moments together. The film's one romantic line comes late in the game, when Diaz's June Havens, feeling the effects of a truth serum, declares that she'd like to have sex with Roy.

Then there's the action. When one begins their film with a plane crash -- featured in every TV spot -- one has nowhere to go but to up the ante with each successive sequence: a chase on freeways, a shootout in a factory, an airplane bombing a tiny island atoll and more chases through narrow European city streets. The film never establishes any rhythm to build to these sequences. Action simply follows action in a tiresome manner.

For that matter, the film never establishes a logical reason for Diaz to be involved at all. In the opening, June keeps bumping into Roy at the Wichita, Kan., airport, though one realizes Roy plans each "accident." Against all reason, June is seated on the same plane with Roy despite the fact this is a decoy flight with only bad guys aboard. Why is she there?

Nevermind, Roy kills every bad guy, which sets the film's cheerfully amoral tone that sees only good times and laughs in the deaths of many. Then Roy force-lands the plane in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere.

Which gives rise to another story flaw that the script turns into a running gag: How does Roy get out of this predicament? What he does do and continues to do throughout the movie in situations of increasing entrapment is to drug June -- and therefore the audience -- so she and the audience wake up in another state or country with no explanation of how Roy got everyone there.   Continued...

<p>U.S. actor Tom Cruise (R) poses with his wife actress Katie Holmes during a photo call for the world premiere of his film "Knight &amp; Day" in Seville June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Juan Medina</p>