Knight and Day
Look out! Cole Trickle’s got automatic weapons!

Theatrical Release Date: 06/23/2010
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Jordi Mollà, Marc Blucas

One thing should be put out there for full disclosure. I can’t stand Cameron Diaz. I often wish that I could go back in time and stop “The Mask” from ever being filmed, so as to prevent a terrible Jim Carrey movie (almost everything else he’s done is better) and Ms. Diaz from breaking out into a “star”. Sure, she’s got ridiculously blue eyes but last I checked, one should also be able to act in order to be called an actress (and I know there are plenty of similar cases but this one bugs me more than most).

Going along with that, Tom Cruise has begun to wear thin lately, as there are only so many times I can see him play the same character over and over again. Sure, I grew up loving “Top Gun”, “The Outsiders” and “Rain Man” … but that’s just the thing – I grew up. And while Diaz never plays anything different, at least Cruise has two and a half characters – shit-eating grin wearing vulnerable softie (a la “Jerry Maguire”), cool as a cucumber secret agent (“Mission Impossible”), or some combination of both (“Days of Thunder”).

Knowing my cinematic baggage, one might be surprised to find that I had some fun with “Knight and Day” – I know I was. The premise is simple: Secret agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise in a bold casting move) is on the run from the U.S. government and a notorious arms dealer. He has an item that both parties want, created by a young but brilliant scientist (Paul Dano, getting to use all his quirky awkwardness). In Miller’s attempt to run, he crosses paths with June Havens (Cameron Diaz), who by all accounts is your normal, non-combat ready civilian. What follows is Miller beating up groups of bad guys via ridiculous and unbelievable action as Havens falls in love with him.

Don’t look too deep for character development. Diaz’s character comes off as someone whose initial sexual attraction is augmented by Stockholm syndrome coupled with an adrenaline fueled hormone boost. Cruise is basically reusing his “Mission Impossible” character Ethan Hunt with lest scowling and no reliance on teamwork whatsoever. All villains are given the stock characteristics one might find in a dictionary when looking up “henchmen”, “double agent” or “international arms dealer”.

All that being said, the film starts strong as the smarminess of Cruise balances with the over the top action and Diaz’ naiveté well. It truly is fun out of the gate, as some of the trailers have shown it to be. Those same elements carry the film through to its predictable (and emotionally grating) conclusion, marred from time to time by director James Mangold stopping the action to try and play up the romantic angle which always feels more like actor worship on Diaz’ part than chemistry.

Sadly, if the film had been recast, I think I would have greatly enjoyed it (and if it had been Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, maybe “Robin Hood” could have been avoided). As it is, “Knight and Day” does get a passing grade from me, a 3 out of 5. If you do not have issues with the main actors, and like the revamped “Mission Impossible” film series, you’ll be right at home here. Otherwise, just rewatch “Shoot ‘Em Up” and revel in how this type of film should be pulled off.