James Mangold’s (Walk the Line) latest movie; the action/romantic-comedy spy film Knight and Day; was expected to one of this seasons big hits, but after opening to a rather tepid reception in the United States, and quite seriously under-performing at the Box Office, everyone is waiting to see how it does when it’s released in the U.K. on August 6th, and many British film fans want to know; is it actually worth seeing?
Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible) leads the cast as secret agent Roy Miller, a James Bond/Ethan Hunt type who’s strangely smiley, quite easy going, and when the film opens, is looking for an unsuspecting sap whom he could use to carry some sensitive material through airport security; enter Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary) as June Havens, a fairly average bumbling woman who’s clearly not that sure of herself, in a rush, and heading home for her sister’s wedding.
Roy bumps into June and uses her (without her consent) to get a valuable item through customs, there beginning their whirlwind romance; as June is instantly attracted to him, and doesn’t even seem to panic that much when only minutes later Roy has shot everybody else on board their plane (in a ‘comedic’ action scene whilst she is in the bathroom powdering her nose), and is forced to crash-land it himself; a romance which involves a courtship that’s anything but normal.
June soon becomes fully wrapped up in Roy’s world; after he rescues her from a number of other agents, who are hunting him, and show up near her home telling her not only that he is dangerous and unstable, but that they are taking her to a ‘safe’ place (the very thing that Roy told her they would say, and would mean that they were planning on killing her); and the pair then end up as fugitives from the law, and chased by secret agents all across the globe.
The reason for their interest in Roy, being that he has a new kind of highly sought after renewable energy source in his possession (a battery that never runs out), as well as its creator; a young high-school graduate called Simon (Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood); and the C.I.A. (whom he previously worked for) believe that he has gone rogue and is planning on selling the battery.
His rogue status is something that the audience is never sure of however, because while it’s entirely possible that the other agents were telling June the truth, and really do want to secure the battery and make sure that the young genius Simon is safe, Roy always seems to be a genuinely nice guy; as he’s saved June’s life several times; plus it’s usually the people who show up and try to shoot the pretty lady that are the bad guys.
The film then involves Roy and June getting involved in a slew of increasingly over-the-top action sequences; that are never realistic in the slightest, always attempting to be funny, but not quite succeeding, and often plastered with bad CGI effects, and terrible blue/green screen backgrounds; as Roy and June attempt to evade capture and death, make sure Simon’s OK, and begin to really fall for each other, all while June becomes more confident and properly adjusts to living in the complicated and dangerous world in which Roy lives.
Tom and Cameron work extremely well together, have great chemistry and timing, and both play their respective parts very well; Tom’s known for playing the part of the charming guy that every woman wants, or the sophisticated and highly trained secret-agent type, which both serve the character of Roy, and make his portrayal consistently solid and as believable as it could possibly be in this extreme concept (despite him often appearing a little smug), and likewise Cameron Diaz plays a combination of her previous roles (the pretty yet bumbling every-girl with a comedic touch, and later on the secret-agent/action heroine), with a degree of believability and comic timing, and it’s easy to see how her and Cruise would fall for one another.
As a result, the romance element works fairly well, and the spy on a quest to save the good guys, clear his name, and protect what he thinks is right, also works, but it’s the movie’s comedy element that often lets it down; while some of the one-liners and dialogue driven jokes can be very funny, and some of the slapstick isn’t bad, it’s the over the top comedy/action sequences that let the film down by being too unrealistic, too lengthy, clearly green-screened, and would probably seem more at home in an Austin Powers film; making it feel like the film is lacking something unspecific.
As far as the supporting cast, every character is fairly cliched (the young yet socially awkward genius who’s being hunted by villains desperate to capture him and his technology, the evil agent who’s twisted the game to his own ends, and has an unlimited supply of guns and henchmen to throw at the hero, and the formal yet slightly clueless agency head who manages to mix up her facts, and spends the movie worrying about the body count), but well portrayed by their actors; including Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead), and Viola Davis (Law Abiding Citizen).
In the end Knight and Day fails to be much more than average, as despite having a number of very good elements (the spy story is pretty good, the romance would be perfectly believable if the scope of the action and locations were toned down slightly, and even some of the comedy can be rather funny), it fails to make them properly gel, and feels like what it is; a mismatch of genres that are very different to successfully piece together.
Having said that, viewers who like romantic-comedies, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and a bit of action, are bound to get a lot out of watching Knight and Day; as both of the leads are great and work together brilliantly, the humour’s light enough to entertain fans of all ages, and the action (when not surrounded by terrible backgrounds) is actually pretty solid.
So while it has its problems; it may have worked better as a more serious spy flick, it feels like a simple warm-up project for Cruise ahead of the next Mission Impossible movie, and doesn’t entirely gel; Knight and Day is a great foray into the action/comedy genre; humorous , witty, and packed with action, it’s miles better than The Bounty Hunter, and a good chance to see Cruise and Cameron on top form, in a perfect date-night movie.