Knight and Day
Directed by James Mangold
Knight and Day is the kind of high-energy, low-calorie confection that's hard to hate, but not easy to love.
Ritter und Tag
In advance of this movie's release, much hoopla was made of it being based on an original spec screenplay. In a summer that's already seen four sequels, a video game adaptation, two movies based on TV shows, and two adaptations from literary sources, that's a little something to crow about.
And given Patrick O'Neill, whose acting resume includes Gross Pointe Blank and Say Anything..., is given sole writing credit, the accomplishment at first seems all the more impressive. But a little digging around into this film's full pedigree reveals something on the order of eight other people dabbled or hacked away at the script to some degree or another.
That explains a lot about the end result. It's all over the place.
While the premise is promising, the end result is something like Romancing the Stone meets Mission: Impossible: Lite.
Romancing the Battery
The movie starts with Roy Miller (Tom Cruise, Vanilla Sky) bumping into June Havens (Cameron Diaz, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle) on two separate occasions at the airport. As fate would have it, they're bound for the same destination. But June's bumped from the full flight… until the very last minute.
It turns out the plane is almost empty. (How weird!) And the handful of people on board wants Roy dead, including the flight attendants and the pilots. Everybody, in fact, except June. She's already fallen for Roy's charms and wants to snag a date.
Yes, it's the summertime, the movie-going season that's all about the preposterous, but Knight and Day takes things to a shark-jumping extreme right around the time Roy crash lands the airliner in a Massachusetts farm. And that's in the early going.
Is Roy insane? Is he some kind of psychotic sociopath who leaves death and destruction in his wake? Or is he actually a super-duper agent who'd put Ethan Hunt to shame?
Maybe he's both. But he definitely acts like a gerbil on steroids running around in a discovery ball with reckless abandon.
Along with the seasonal overdose of the preposterous, this movie also serves as prime content for those with any type of attention deficit disorder. Bored? Wait a second and there'll be loads of gunfire!
Stars and Stripes
Why the movie is titled Knight and Day isn't exactly clear, nor is it terribly important. The plot's MacGuffin is stashed in a toy knight. There's also a family called the Knights. And, in an attempt at character building, Roy tells June, while on that fateful flight, that a lot of times when people say "some day" they'll do something, they really mean "never."
That's a nice little theme woven into this globetrotting adventure that, much like Joan Wilder, takes June Havens from a down-to-earth hottie who knows how to restore classic cars (yeah, girls like her are a dime a dozen) and turns her into a butt-kickin' babe in total control of her life (that'll be two dozen, please).
Cameron Diaz is certainly likeable. And, more importantly, so is Tom Cruise, even though he dumps his Yankees cap from War of the Worlds in favor of Boston gear. He's a turncoat, but that's fine. It fits with the movie's spy/counter-spy tale.
It's a little unfortunate for Cruise that so many people are reading so much into how well this movie performs. Valkyrie was a decent movie and it performed as such. This is a big, loud, and massively overblown adventure flick that'll most likely perform accordingly as well.
But how much flak Cruise should suffer in the event this movie tanks is hard to gauge. Then again, he's one of the eight-or-so alleged script doctors and mechanics.
Matthew the Knight
There's a recurring joke about an older couple in Massachusetts. They get bills for stuff ordered on the Internet and the husband doesn't remember a thing about ordering any of them. It's light-hearted banter; it's funny. But it could've added some humanity to this comic book if it had been played a little more straight.
Doing so wouldn't have taken all that much imagination. Ultimately, though, that's to be expected from this movie that's all about people pretending to be something they're not. That notion applies to the movie as well; it thinks it's clever, but the reality is not so much so.
And that disappointment extends to the special effects. Even they're not believable, whether they involve spiffy spy planes roaring over head or bulls running up from behind, none of it plays with any degree of realism. Throw in some awful green screen work, the kind that harks back to the notoriously bad blue screen effects of the old James Bond movies, and the image is complete: this movie wants to be something slick, sexy, and sassy, but it isn't.
The one thing the movie does do well is incorporate the classic Hitchcock MacGuffin. Everybody's intent on getting their hands on something called the Zephyr. But what it is and what it does really doesn't matter. It's simply the excuse to set in motion the series of chaotic events that is Knight and Day.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.