Tom Cruise has always been a pretty cool guy. Perhaps one of the biggest stars in the world, if not the biggest (not height-wise, he's quite small), he's a great actor, one who fully embodies his roles and gives memorable performances, always seeming to play likable characters who we love to watch on the big screen. Although he believes aliens created him or, uh, something, he is a hard person to hate, he's consistently on top-form and shining in each role he takes, but some do have these malign feelings towards him. Assholes!
His last film, war story Valkyrie, was in 2008 and I have to say that I've missed him since then. Cruise is one of the best of his field and a year without him is quite noticeable. But now he's back, starring alongside the ever-scrumptious Cameron Diaz in the lighthearted action comedy Knight and Day. So is it good? Well, keep reading, you lazy bastard.
Diaz is June Havens, a confident, rather typical, everyday woman who gets on a flight from Wichita, intending to go home and attend her sister's wedding. Sat in the aisle next to her is Roy Miller (Cruise), a suave and talkative cool cat who she "coincidentally" (wink, wink) bumped into twice on the way to the plane. After some chit-chat June visits the restroom, during which the few seated passengers jump up and attack Roy, but are all quickly killed along with the two pilots. Roy, you dumbass!
So, much to June's surprise, Roy crash-lands the plane in a field, after which it comes to light that he is a secret agent. Through a series of unfortunate events, Roy ends up having to protect June from a bunch of guys with guns, having to go globetrotting with her, all the while trying to keep hold of a certain object called a Zephyr. "What is a Zephyr?" I hear you ask. Well, you'll have to watch the movie.
Knight and Day apparently went through what filmmakers call Development Hell, with many different rewrites, directors and cast member changes along with budgetary problems and several re-shoots taking place. Because of this, I'm quite surprised by how the film turned out. With all of these predicaments, I would have assumed that the film would end up a confused mess like Jonah Hex, The Wolf Man or X-Men Origins: Wolverine, all of which went through the same bothersome process.
But Knight and Day manages to still be a fun, energetic movie which defies logic for the sake of silly entertainment, working as a decent satire of the spy genre. All of the cliches are there; the grand locations, the charismatic secret agent, the villain with a foreign accent, car chases, mass gunfire and fist fights, all of which add up to a great night out at the movies.
However, a little word of warning. Don't go into Knight and Day thinking that it's a side splittingly hilarious comedy because where the film fails is in the laughs department. Truth be told, this film does not achieve the hilarity it thinks it does, with it lacking in good jokes, taking the film down a notch or two. No doubt, the film is persistently humorous and has a strong tongue-in-cheek nature, but I would have liked more laugh-out-loud moments.
Saying that, it's not completely without shits and giggles as there were a few scenes which made me chuckle. For example, as Roy is in a cafe, dragging a handcuffed, struggling June outside, he points his gun and says to the customers, "Nobody follow us! Or I kill myself and then her!" This wittiness is few and far between and having more of it would massively lift the film up.
What the film lacks in hilarity, on the other hand, it very much makes up for in the action sequences. The movie is quite action-packed with several over-the-top fight scenes and vehicle pursuits, all of which are equally thrilling and exciting, as well as pretty damn creative. In one scene, June is worriedly driving a car down the highway from the backseat after the original driver is shot dead. Through the side window, we see Roy drive a police motorbike off-screen on an uphill road. Some seconds later, the Roy-less bike re-enters the frame and splashes into the lake below before Roy lands on top of the car's hood, smiling away through the windscreen. "That's a beautiful dress," he says to the terrified June.
Each of these action scenes are brilliantly shot by director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk The Line), capturing the tense, yet cartoonish escapades going on without having to resort to the sometimes tedious shaky cam many action directors have recently helmed. They all crank up the tension and adrenaline whilst keeping the always-present humour intact. They really make the movie.
As you can probably tell by the two opening paragraphs of this review, I am a fan of Cruise (as you should be too) and here he most definitely did not disappoint my usually high standards. He plays the elegant and charming yet cheeky and lovable nature of Roy to a tee, additionally kicking some ass and shooting some bullets. And then some.
Diaz is first-class alongside Cruise, living up to her A-list name, playing June in a believable enough fashion, which is impressive considering the insane and incredibly unfamiliar circumstances her character has to deal with. Both Cruise and Diaz are juxtaposed with each other, one this energetic action hero, the other a commonplace, unassuming 30-something who's a little freaked out by Cruise's antics. Their on-screen chemistry is somewhat effective and helps in the film's appeal.
All in all, Knight and Day is pretty good. The movie loses itself in the middle for a little bit, but it manages to pick itself back up towards the end. It suffers from weak jokes, but the feel is still very comical, not taking itself seriously at all and the film is an action-packed one filled with twists and turns along the way. The French style music used in some scenes by John Powell sets the tone perfectly and household names Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz dazzlingly carry the movie without fault. It's not quite True Lies, nor is it Hot Fuzz, but at least it's not the Ashton Kutcher mega-fart known as Killers.