Discover more from (All (Parentheses))
Knight and Day
Time Out New York Project: Issue #769, June 24–30, 2010
Dir. James Mangold. 2010. PG-13. 110mins. Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Paul Dano.
Many star-studded blockbusters are all about the abs, but—if we’re to go by the grins that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz flash with shit-eating abandon—this smug and callous action-comedy is about nothing but teeth. The duo’s ear-to-ear smirking is so prevalent in Knight and Day that it quickly becomes a transparent tactic: If the leads appear to be having fun, then the audience will follow suit, regardless of the fact that the movie before them is, to put it mildly, psychotic.
Rogue secret agent Roy Miller (Cruise) and his unwitting civilian tagalong, June Havens (Diaz), ruthlessly deal out death, all in the service of their globe-hopping caper to protect an experimental battery and its barely twentysomething inventor (Dano) from various inept villains. It’s only a short time, of course, until the two fall head over heels in love. Yet before that sun-dappled final kiss, there’s still a gauntlet of bloodlessly inconsequential violence to get through.
Cars crash. Planes go down. People and places are reduced to bullet-riddled window dressing (though exploding crimson squibs are noticeably absent—viva PG-13!). We’ve seen all this before in any number of disposable Hollywood products, but there’s something particularly odious about it here given Cruise and Diaz’s black-hole lack of chemistry. The soul-shattering emptiness of the enterprise is amplified the longer the bullets and the banter fly.
Director James Mangold’s leaden eye for action sequences doesn’t help matters, what with his heavy reliance on CGI or the use of silly contrivances like a running-gag sleep potion to avoid such scenes altogether. The film also wastes a great-in-theory supporting cast, especially Viola Davis as a government agent whose primary purpose is to shout “Clean this shit up!” to her underlings. I can think of a few other folks she could direct that at.—Keith Uhlich