Movie Review: KNIGHT AND DAY

I’ve never been a big fan of Tom Cruise, even before all the crazy talk and couch jumping. He comes across exactly the same way in every movie, no matter who he plays, even Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself liking him as Roy Miller in Knight & Day (out today) more than I’ve liked him in anything for a loooong time. It’s as if he realized he doesn’t have to try so hard to prove he’s a mega star.

Roy and June (Cameron Diaz) meet in an airport as she’s flying to Boston to attend her sister’s wedding. They bump into each other twice and it’s super cute with lots of smiles and “No, I’m sorry”s. We know Roy is manipulating the encounters; we just don’t know why. Then they both end up on the same plane and all sorts of crazy stuff breaks out. There are fights in tight spaces and creative use of seat belts and cords from oxygen masks.

After a crash landing, lots of other outrageous things happen in quick succession, with everyone chasing a MacGuffin all over the globe, from Massachusetts to Spain to Austria. Not all of it makes sense but you really don’t need to understand everything. It’s just an excuse to watch Cruise and Diaz banter and have a lot more fun here than they did in Vanilla Sky. Though Roy is a highly skilled action hero, he’s also a former Eagle Scout who’s soft-spoken and polite even while dispatching baddies. “Please move,” he nicely asks a bystander during a fight right before he slams into the space where the person was standing. When June freaks out in the midst of massive gunfire, he says in a calming voice, “I’ll just go talk to these guys and I’ll be right back. Actually, I’m just gonna shoot them, but I’ll be right back, okay?” Instead of busting a vein trying to show us how badass he is, Cruise relaxes into Roy’s gentlemanly ways and the result is rather charming.

Diaz’s June screams a lot at first but the actress manages to make her character’s reactions more realistic than annoying. If I were repeatedly thrown into a hail of bullets, dodging firebombs from airplanes and chased by bulls in Seville, I’d probably behave that way, too. But June eventually gets the hang of things and it’s entertaining to see her develop her action muscle.

Supporting cast includes Viola Davis, who’s completely wasted in the role of an FBI muckety muck, and Peter Sarsgaard, who is problematic because you know he’s a bad guy the instant he appears on screen. No, really, Roy tells June in the beginning if she runs into Sarsgaard, he’s a bad guy. I thought, “Well, duh. It’s Sarsgaard. No warning required.” But this isn’t a big hindrance because the movie isn’t about him. You sign up for the thrill ride with Cameron and Tom as your energetic Cruise directors.

Nerd verdict: Go where the Day takes you.

Photos: Frank Masi

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    LolosLetters
    June 23, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I don’t really like either one of these two (find TC, especially, to always seem fake and, as you pointed out, fake in the same way – that fake laugh drives me to distraction). That being said, for some reason I put this one on my “to watch” list. It will definitely be a Netflix rather than theater selection, but at least I know it won’t be a total annoyance. 🙂

    But no lemurs?

  • Reply
    jenn
    June 23, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I don’t like either of them. Tom Cruise is just ridiculous, and Cameron *cough* no talent *cough* Diaz drives me insane.

    Your review makes me want to see it, but like LolosLetters, I’ll add it to the Netflix queue.

    And, for the record, the only thing I like Tom Cruise in? Tropic of Thunder. I LOVED that movie. He cracked me up in it, and I really did think it was a totally different role for him. I didn’t even recognize him, and that first dance scene is just awesome. I wish I could find the clip of it on YouTube, but they have the end credit one, not the middle one.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    June 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Chalk me up as another one who isn’t really a fan of either actor but thought this actually looked interesting. Thanks for the review!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    June 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Ha ha! Looks like we’re on the same page about these two stars. I don’t have a strong dislike for Diaz and thought she was good in Being John Malkovich but she does bug me when she’s too bubble-headed on screen sometimes. She’s tolerable here. Cruise doesn’t do his hyena laugh at all (it always makes my teeth hurt, Lolos), underplays a lot of his lines and comes across kinda sweet.

  • Reply
    Reader#9
    June 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Loved the trailer and was going to go see it anyway. Thanks for the PCN stamp of approval!

  • Reply
    Ybnorml
    June 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Wow, that’s a pretty far stretch of approval for Cruise. Something about him just makes me go “ick!” While my gut tells me to wait till it hits Netflix, I’ll actually go out on a limb and watch it in the theatres (at the matinee price of $6 of course). I truly value your opinion PCN but if Cruise lives up to his ick factor, you’re gonna owe me for the popcorn. 😀

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm

      I couldn’t believe as I was typing the review that I was giving TC a thumbs up but I feel pretty confident you’ll find him charming, too. The movie has narrative flaws for sure but it’s fun so just eat the popcorn and go with it. Take the kids then come back and tell me if I owe you money.

  • Reply
    LolosLetters
    June 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Interesting to note the almost universal commenter dislike of TC and no great like for CD and yet the movie interests us all. What is it that is elevating this particular action movie full of unlikeable actors to our lists?

    Can it be PCN has this much power over our viewing habits? I’m beginning to get a fearful knot in my stomach. 🙂

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 23, 2010 at 4:31 pm

      Ha! If I had that much power, I’d be rich. I think it’s more that brilliant, classy, attractive people think alike.

      Guess what I’m seeing tonight? Winter’s Bone. Will report back, if not by tomorrow then Friday.

      • Reply
        LolosLetters
        June 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm

        Valid point. 🙂

        Oooh, jealousy! I’m going to try and see this weekend. Woodrell is beyond words. Have you read his stuff? Give Us a Kiss one of the greatest ever.

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          June 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

          I’m semi-ashamed to say I’ve never read him even though several people have been beating me over the head with his books. My lame excuse? Only one set of eyes and not enough time. Which one’s your favorite?

          • Reply
            LolosLetters
            June 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm

            Add me to the head-beaters. My fave (but it may be because it was my first) was Give Us a Kiss (A Country Noir). And not very long, so wouldn’t take you but a few hours.

            • Reply
              Pop Culture Nerd
              June 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

              OK, I’ll make a concerted effort to put down the PEOPLE mag and squeeze in some Woodrell instead. Fair trade, wouldn’t you say?

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    June 24, 2010 at 5:38 am

    I have a feeling this would be a nose wrinkler for me. Like everyone else I dislike both Cruise and Cameron. And there are very few action films that go over the top that I enjoy. If I see this it will likely be on DVD, but the list of to watches is getting longer and longer and I haven’t been watching much of anything. TOY STORY 3 is a much higher priority for me. 🙂

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    June 24, 2010 at 6:26 am

    I took this end after work yesterday, and you’ve nailed it in the review, Elyse. Good one, PCN! Thanks for this.

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    June 28, 2010 at 6:17 am

    You always have interesting content, Elyse, and I enjoy reading your posts very much. So, I have awarded you with The Versatile Blogger award because you deserve it, and as a thank you.

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