By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic
Two celebrities reunite on the silver screen for the first time since the 2001 movie Vanilla Sky. From the perspective of a New England resident, Knight & Day can be a fairly fun, and entertaining game of “Where in the World Are Tom Cruise, and Cameron Diaz?” For the rest of the country, the film may not be quite so engaging, but it is still an action-filled, light-hearted romp through a James Bond world of espionage, counterintelligence, and violence.
The writing in Knight & Day is actually pretty smart. It is nothing new, amazing, or mind blowing; anyone, who has watched a kids show about Hannah Montana will understand the idea of a mysterious character, leading a double life, and never being fully understood. In that sense, casting Tom Cruise as a supercompetent spy with excellent manners is not unusual, but within the character interactions there is an awful lot of room for interesting exchanges. Take for instance the restaurant scene where Cruise kicks a waiter, and says, “Sorry, thought you were making a move.” Although the premise is tried, and true, the story never becomes fully boring, because of the quality of the writing, and the performances of the actors. My only complaint is with the use of unconsciousness as a plot device; people knock each other out just to move the plot along several times, and it is always feels unnecessary.
The reason why this film is similar to “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” is the extent of the globe trotting, but it is especially so, because many of its scenes were filmed in Massachusetts. ( Can you identify the different areas of Boston where scenes were shot? hint: three, distinct neighborhoods ) Director James Mangold of 3:10 to Yuma is able to capture an appropriate mood for all of the scenes in the process. Sure, there are explosions. Sure, people die. Sure, lots of people die quite unpleasantly, but he still manages to keep the tone of the movie light. He remembers that no one cares about the bad guys, unless the story plays them up, and as such we can focus on enjoying watching Cruise, and Diaz play off of each other.
For their part, the characters are actually very one dimensional. Bad guys are bad guys. Good guys are good guys. There is not much room to question morality. Cruise plays Roy Miller across from Diaz as June Havens. There is no real depth to their interaction, the ending is never in question, but they do plenty of cute things, and are entertaining to watch. Some critics have suggested that Cruise, and Diaz are too old to appeal to the audience for this type of film, but they seem to be well positioned for their characters. One would much prefer to see an aged, and experienced superspy to some high schooler, and his costar needs to match. In terms of marketing it may not have been the best idea, but in terms of realism the casting works.
Peter Saarsgard brings his darkness, and depth to another character. Despite the lightheartedness of the film, Saarsgard contrasts well as a villain, because villains are supposed to be dark, and sinister with unclear intentions. The remaining members of the supporting cast fulfill their roles properly. Another standout would be Marc Blucas, who makes the most of his screen time, and keeps it fun.
The film is called Knight & Day. The knight is pretty readily apparent, but one wonders where Day enters the title. What would have been better: the Light Knight? Who knows? There is no reason to dwell on any thing with Knight & Day. It is fun to watch, get a few chuckles, and then enjoy the rest of your day.