Last week, Toy Story 3 was presented to the world to almost complete adulation, sans a not too surprising negative review from the critic everyone loves to hate, Armond White. In front of that marvelous film was a short from Pixar called Day and Night, which has more thought and ingenuity put into it than this week’s film reversely titled Knight and Day. That in no way makes it a bad movie, however. On the contrary, it’s a blast, a summer popcorn flick that asks you to check your brain at the door. Like the recent Prince of Persia, I was happy to oblige.
The film stars Cameron Diaz as June, a woman on her way home to attend her sister’s wedding. As a gift to her soon-to-be-wed sis, she has been restoring her father’s old GTO hoping that her sister will love it as much as he did. When she arrives at the airport, she bumps into Roy, played by Tom Cruise, a rogue agent on the run from the FBI after being set up by his former partner. June doesn’t yet know this, however, and steps foot onto the plane, unaware of what is about to happen. In the bathroom, she musters up the courage to make a move on Roy only to walk out and find everybody dead, including the two pilots. After safely crash landing in a field, June is drugged and wakes up in her apartment the next day. She thinks she has seen the last of Roy, but he keeps showing up and eventually drags her into his predicament.
There’s more story, something having to do with a battery that can light up entire cities, code named “zephyr,” but what really matters is what I’ve detailed above. Where the two go and why seems unimportant compared to what they do there. The wild action and witty vocal jabs they take at each other are more than enough to please, even if the story seems a bit redundant of other similar pseudo spy comedies like Mr. & Mrs. Smith or Get Smart.
Say what you want about Tom Cruise and his personal life, but the man is a fine actor. Outside of a few select performances, namely the recent Valkyrie, he has always found a way to impress the guys and woo the ladies. He emits vigor and likability at every turn and it’s never been as apparent as it is here. He isn’t merely a side character as he has been in other comedies, such as Tropic Thunder or his brief cameo appearance in Austin Powers in Goldmember. He’s allowed to do his own thing for nearly two hours and he’s great. He’s the kind of actor that can make us forget that what we’re seeing is mindless and surprise us with his versatile mix of humor and physical stunts.
It was the late film critic Pauline Kael who once wrote, “The movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we shouldn’t go at all.” Knight and Day perfectly encapsulates that sentiment. This is the type of movie where the hero stands in wide open spaces surrounded by FBI agents, yet never gets shot. It’s the type of movie where the characters continually make bad decisions. It’s the type of movie whose plot twists are contrived and predictable. It’s stupid, but it’s the right kind of stupid.
When I walked out of Knight and Day, I felt like I had just watched the big screen version of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Action Movies.” It’s not a poorly produced film—on the contrary, it’s quite good—but it’s hard to take this stuff seriously. This is fluff through and through, an entertaining time waster that will drift from my mind as the summer moves along. But rather than look towards the future, I’m reveling in the present and I’m finding that Knight and Day is easy to recommend.
Knight and Day receives 3.5/5