Monday, December 6, 2010

Knight and Day (2010)


Title: Knight and Day (2010)

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Peter Saarsgard, Paul Dano

Review:

Watching Knight and Day was the cinematic equivalent of going to a Rolling Stone’s concert where you see a bunch of aging rock stars that for all intents and purposes are still trying their best to rock. Though they still “got it” they’ve also lost that vitality, that craziness and unpredictability of their youth. In Knight and Day the stars that are still trying their best to rock in their old age are: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Though Cruise is just about to hit 50 and Diaz is only 38, they look really beat for some reason. Maybe its because we remember them more for the roles they played in their youth. It’s funny how we as movie watchers freeze an actors image in our mind, and think that they will look like that forever. I mean, don’t you sometimes think that Tom Cruise will always be that young strapping dude you saw in Top Gun? Or that Cameron Diaz’s hotness will be the same as when she first appeared in The Mask all those years ago? It’s when you see these actors getting old on screen that you realize they are just as human as us. And they wont remain young forver. But these actors are not ready to give up their younger action packed years, they want to go down fighting the good cinematic fight, and so we get a film like Knight and Day, where Cruise is still playing the indestructible super agent, killing the bad guys and saving the girl.  How did it go?


In Knight and Day, Tom Cruise plays Roy Miller a rogue FBI agent who is out to protect a young genius who has just invented a power source that supposedly never wears down. The FBI wants to stop Roy and get the battery. Meanwhile, as he runs away from the government Roy stumbles upon June Havens (Cameron Diaz) your every day regular girl on her way to her sisters wedding. Unfortunately, she stumbles upon the whole pursuit and becomes an accomplice to Roy. Roy tells her he is doing good, trying to do the right thing, that if she sticks to him that she will have a better chance to stay alive. While the government tells her that Cruise is a nut, a government agent whose gone rogue, and that they need their help to stop him. Who will she believe? And will Roy manage to save the everlasting battery from falling in the wrong hands?


The way I saw this movie, I got the vibe that they were trying to duplicate the enormous success of films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), where they pared two huge actors of both genders in one bombastic big budget action adventure film. It’s one of those movies that wants to cover it all. Problem is that Cameron Diaz isnt exactly a huge box office draw; and Tom Cruise, well, some people prefer to make fun of him nowadays. Though I will say that Cruise has retaliated that situation very intelligently by making fun of himself in comedies like Tropic Thunder (2008), where he showed to the world that yeah, he’s got a funny bone too. He is taking this route of getting on audiences good side by playing funny/happy go lucky characters. This is the case with of Knight and Day, where he is this crazy unpredictable character who has the solution for everything he is always 50 steps ahead of you. He has been trained to do everything and anything, no one can trap him, he is always on the run, and he is that much more clever than the bad guys. Buty at the end of the day, his objectives noble.

"Please save me Mr. Secret Agent Man!"

My main problem with the film was that they played the female character in an extremely clichéd way. Knight and Day reminded me of films like Romancing the Stone (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) where the guy is this loose cannon with the answers to everything, and the girl basically screams, shouts, cries and fucks everything up through out the whole film. She’s only there for the guy to rescue her. I would have thought that the portrayal of women in films would have been past that by now, but apparently not. Cameron Diaz’s June, is that walking cliché of a female character every step of the way. Roy does all the smart moves, she stumbles trips and generally “cant cope well with a situation” unless she is drugged. She does some good at the end of the film, but by then, she’s already walked through every step of the female cliché book. The supporting cast was made up of Paul Dano who plays Simon, the genius who is working on the everlasting battery thingy. If you ask me he was completely wasted on this movie, having very little to do, they could have given that role to a lesser actor. Same goes for Peter Sarsgaard. They guy is a solid actor, but here he plays a luke warm half assed villain. I mean that’s another rule this movie broke for me. It had a weak ass villain. A pity, because they had such a good actor to play him.


As for the action adventure side in the film, it’s non stop. There was a lot of CGI involved on this movie, but I did notice that Tom Cruise was doing a lot of his own stunts, I'll give him that! I mean, sure, he's harnessed up the wazoo, but at least the guy is doing it himself. Kudos to him for that. We go from a plane crash, to a car chase, to a motorcycle chase, to a boat chase, to a train, after a while, you feel like cashing in your frequent flyer mileage. We go from Austria to Spain, to Mexico to U.S.A. and back again. Its one of those movies where the characters fly all over the world in the span of an hour and a half. You feel like a ping pong ball half way through the movie. The action sequences are complex and entertaining just don’t expect any level of reality to them. People jump from moving cars while shooting their guns. There are spectacular car crashes in this extended freeway chase sequence. A plane crashes in a corn field, in fact every conceivable vehicle you can think of crashes. But a word of warning, none of it feels believable. This is the kind of film where you have to just give in to the action adventure fantasy. Take that disbelief and suspend it before hitting play.

"Theres this really cool new church called Church of Scientology, ever heard of it?"

The plot is paper thin, which is kind of weird because the film was written by 14 different people! I have a rule when watching movies, if the film is written by more then two writers, it’s bound to be crap. There are a few exceptions, but generally, for some reason, it’s always been true. The more writers the film has, the shittier the film is gonna be. Usually this type of deal applies to big budget movies, where studios can’t freaking make up their minds as to what kind of movie they want to make. I have to admit, the films story is a mess. The good guys are the bad guys and suddenly everything changes and they are the good guys again and everything is alright? The ending made no point to me, really, the story was a big old mess, sweeping everything up to make everything alright at the end, sacrificing logic along the way. That’s they kind of movie this is, a big budget blunder. At one point the film was going to star Chris Tucker next to Eva Mendez! Even Gerard Butler was slated to star on this one! Actually, I’m kind of curious myself as to how that version of the movie would have turned out! Butler was born to play big action; sadly, he opted to make The Bounty Hunter (2010) with Jennifer Aniston. So what we got here ladies and gents, is an attempt to make a big budget action adventure comedy, that didn’t exactly work out at the box office. Toy Story 3 made sure of that! But honestly? I had some fun with it. It’s that kind of a movie that isn’t brainy or intelligent, but it is light, entertaining and fun.

Rating: 3 out 5
 
Tom Cruise and director James Mangold

Knight and Day (Single-Disc Edition)Knight and Day (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo+ Digital Copy)Romancing the Stone (Special Edition)Romancing the Stone [Blu-ray]

7 comments:

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I didn't really consider watching this, but after your review I'm kind of intrigued. It sounds like, from your description and your anecdotes on the film's backstory, that a lot of people tried to salvage something or make something work that might have been better left in the slush pile.

I'm curious to see Cruise as well, because after Valkyrie it felt like his days as the big leading man were over, and you seem to be echoing that sentiment here, also referencing his excellent cameo in Tropic Thunder. That could be interesting, considering he's putting talent together for a Mission Impossible 4.

odenat said...

the total U.S. weekend box office take for Knight and Day was the worst result for an action film starring Tom Cruise in 20 years !

The Film Connoisseur said...

@Direct to Video Connoisseur: It feels like the beginning of the end for Cruise. This movie was the lowest opening of his recent career, signs that things are gonna start slowing down for Cruise?

But also, I didnt get why they initially didnt use Cruise's or Cameron's face for the promotional poster, instead the poster showcased their silhouettes. I thought it was strange that they werent capitalizing on Cruise's face to sell the movie. Who was the genius who designed that plan?

@odenat: Exactly! But I'll tell you its an entertaining movie, its fast paced. I mean, its exactly what they wanted it to be a shinny, happy, fast paced, action packed, special effect filled, big stars summer blockbuster. Also, thanks to its worldwide boxoffice, it made its money back.

But also, this type of film has been done to death lately. The movie where the good girl falls in love with an assasin, and people have seen this story done too many times already, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is one of them. And movies like:

THE KILLERS with Ashton Kutcher playing the secret agent man

THE BOUNTY HUNTER with Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Jonathan Rys Myers plays the agent.

J.D. said...

The real head scratcher is why they got James Mangold to direct this? His background isn't in action/adventure films but prestige pictures like WALK THE LINE and 3:10 TO YUMA or indie films like GIRL, INTERRUPTED and COP LAND. All of these films I enjoyed but this one just seemed all wrong for him. He needs to go back to a small scope/budget film, which is where his strengths lie, I think.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I think he was just trying to direct something commercial that would make obscene amounts of money. Usually directors do this when they have another project that they really want to do afterwards.

Sometimes directors just want to see if they can pull off a big movie like this as well, just to prove to themselves that they could pull of a big budget commercial flick.

J.D. said...

Agreed. That's certainly why Soderbergh did all those OCEAN films, to bankroll his smaller, more personal projects.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Exactly!

Another good example is director David Gordon Green, who is responsible for films like GEORGE WASHINGTON, SNOW ANGELS and UNDERTOW, obviously, he specializes in indie dramas, yet he goes and makes a commercial comedy like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS with Seth Rogen.

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