Knight and Day

Movie Information

The Story: A woman's life is turned upside down when she becomes involved with a secret agent on the run from his own people. The Lowdown: An occasionally pleasant action/comedy that expects too much from its stars without giving them a whole lot to work with.
Genre: Action/Romantic Comedy
Director: James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Jordi Mollà
Rated: PG-13

What we have here is about 60 minutes worth of entertainment spread out over 110 minutes of running time. That’s simply not a good arrangement. Oh, I tried looking on the bright side. For example, I focused on the fact that at least Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz aren’t Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. That provided some comfort. But since Knight and Day really wants to be Charade (1963), it kept reminding me that as much as Cruise and Diaz aren’t Kutcher and Heigl, neither are they Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn—by a very long shot indeed. Nor for that matter is Knight and Day’s director James Mangold Charade’s Stanley Donen. In short, much comfort was not to be had.

The best that can be said of Knight and Day is that it’s sometimes passable entertainment of the most predictable kind. The worst that can be said is that it’s a sloppy, clunky movie that banks on the star power of its leading man without realizing the account is overdrawn. The days when Tom Cruise being in a picture was enough of a selling point have passed—something attested to by Knight and Day’s distant third place at the box office. It’s not really surprising, because the film makes the mistake of thinking it’s a lot cooler than it is—a malady that appears to afflict its star as well. The unfortunate part is that it didn’t have to be like this.

The opening and the setup of Knight and Day aren’t particularly clever, nor are they in the least bit fresh—but they serve to get the plot underway and to bring together June Havens (Diaz) and Roy Miller (Cruise) with a minimum of fuss. The film then appears to hit its stride with the over-the-top and darkly comic scene on board an airplane where all the passengers and crew—except for June—are out to put Roy out of the way and recover the plot’s MacGuffin. Unfortunately, the plane hits the ground and, in many respects, so does the movie.

We already know from the trailer that Roy is some kind of secret agent and that June gets dragged into his world of secret-spy stuff—which means a lot of shooting and being shot at, chasing and being chased against her will. The film knows we know this and wastes no time in establishing even a passing reason for the connection between Roy and June—apart from the fact that the script requires it, and maybe that’s enough. What transpires is mostly a series of overblown action set pieces—many of which are cursed with dicey CGI-effects work—spread over several exotic locales, interrupted every so often by nefarious plotting and mid-level romantic banter. Parts of it are perfectly adequate. But do you really want to go to a movie because it’s adequate? And while we’re at it, what does the title mean? Rated PG-13 for action violence throughout and brief strong language.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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9 thoughts on “Knight and Day

  1. luluthebeast

    If it had an actual script it would have been a loy better! I didn’t think Cruise and Diaz were too bad together, but they were given nothing to work with.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Say this movie was cut down to 70 minutes and starred Clive Owen instead of Tom Cruise – would it work then?

    It did. It was called Shoot ‘Em Up.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I didn’t think Cruise and Diaz were too bad together

    Neither did I and I don’t much care for either of them, but, you know, I want something more than “not too bad together” out of my leads, especially in a movie that wants to dazzle me with their chemistry, charisma and charm.

  4. luluthebeast

    That’s one of the reasons the movie was just
    “adequate”, but then so many of the movies this summer are just “adequate”.

    Except the A-TEAM of course!

  5. DrSerizawa

    I think that the ship sailed on this sort of spoofy buddy action flick years ago. It might have been a hit in the 90s, but the genre has been beaten to death.

  6. golden cindy

    Just saw this. First impression: everyone had really really white teeth. The nerd kid did not. That’s about it for me.

  7. Scichick

    DrSerizawa has a point when he says …

    ” [I] think that the ship sailed on this sort of spoofy buddy action flick years ago. It might have been a hit in the 90s, but the genre has been beaten to death.”

    IMO this is statement is analogous to Tom Cruise’s career.

    When an actor is in his mid-late 40’s is trying to rebuild a career from some unfortunate incidents/comments, the last thing he needs to do is try to play a role (like this) that is better suited for a late 20’s actor with attitude (And, yes; I know that **was** Mr. Cruise in the 90’s).

    For me (admittedly dragged to this movie by another and not that keen to start with), the major downfall of the flick was the semi-comedy-semi-parody-semi-action nature of the movie.

    It came off hokey.

    Who knows, but I think it may have worked better with a different male lead. Also although Ms. Diaz was competent, if not dazzling, in this role then … perhaps this film would have been a it with a more [genuinely & believe-ably] naive female actress and a semi established actor with an edge. This is not me being age-ist, I’m trying to imagine how the film may have worked if the casting was different!

  8. Pepi Acebo

    This movie was hokey. And a hell of a lot of fun.

    Very playful camera angles. Funny (I can’t believe they just did that) shots. Watching a fight scene from outside a plane? Getting the protagonist (Diaz) out of tight spots by having them fade in and out of consciousness?

    Yes, it’s ridiculous. And ridiculously fun.

    A lot better (and more believable) than Salt.

    Yes, you knew the battery was going to explode. And that those people were his parents. But everything else?

    It’s a the brew-and-view. Worth all $3 and more.

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