Monday, 9 August 2010
With Tom your entertainment value is up here, without him it's down here…
KNIGHT AND DAY
In KNIGHT AND DAY Tom Cruise is Roy, who may or may not be a demented superspy gone rogue, and who drags innocent bystander June, played by Cameron Diaz, around the world with him in a car chasing, gun fighting, plane crashing adventure. Apparently it all has something to do with weapons dealers and a new energy source and the scientist kid who invented it.
I wasn’t gonna bother with a review for this film because it really doesn’t merit one. This ain’t INCEPTION or TOY STORY 3. Both of those have far more weight and meaning in their first few seconds than KNIGHT AND DAY can muster in its entire 107 minutes. That by itself is not a criticism. I have nothing against vacuous movies that only set out to entertain on a purely surface level. Nothing wrong with that at all. Some of my favourite films do that. The problem is that this latest effort from Mr Mad Sofa Jumper…I mean Tom Cruise, though a reasonably enjoyable action comedy romance thingy, quickly starts fading from your mind as soon as the credits begin to roll. It is pure formula fluff. It is lightweight almost to the point of being thin air. It is silly yet tries to inject a bit of seriousness here and there. It really shouldn't have.
With KNIGHT AND DAY you can tell they were trying to go for the whole screwball comedy/romance thing – a kind of throwback to the old 30’s/40’s films that might then have starred Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn – only dressed up now as a big budget summer actioner. However it doesn’t really work. The characters are too thin and the jokes just aren’t that funny, smirksome is about all that can be managed. Good ol’ Tom, (I don’t care what anyone says, I love the guy) he does his best and he is a lot of fun to watch. But the material doesn’t really serve him. A smarter, wittier script should have been the basis here. As his partner in screen time, Cameron Diaz does what she is supposed to do – look cute and flustered, be a bit ditsy before getting it together by films end. But she isn’t especially good or funny, just adequate. The rest of the cast doesn’t make much of an impact either. As soon as you see Peter Sarsgaard’s name you know he is gonna be the bad guy. And he plays it just as you’d expect - slimy and obvious. Arguably the best of the supporting bunch is one-time-Buffy-boyfriend Riley Finn aka Marc Blucas who gives a nicely innocent, goofy turn as Rodney, June’s Fireman ex-boyfriend.
But, look, James Cameron already made this movie sixteen years ago. A big budget star driven screwball comedy/action/romance adventure. It was called TRUE LIES. And it was and still is frikking amazing!
KNIGHT AND DAY is nowhere near to amazing, even though it's directed by James Mangold, a man who has made a load of films I love including GIRL, INTERRUPTED, IDENTITY, WALK THE LINE and 3:10 TO YUMA. To be fair he does a decent enough job here. The film certainly has energy and pace and he directs the plentiful action with that same energy and pace as well as a strong sense of timing and rhythm, though none of it ever reaches the wicked highs Mr Cameron managed sixteen years ago. But comparing anyone to James Cameron in the action stakes is kinda unfair. No, the main problem with the action stuff in KNIGHT AND DAY is that Mangold is let down badly by some truly awful digital effects. Effects that if Cameron saw them he’d immediately beat the shit out of the FX supervisor before firing the entire company. I saw background projection straight out of an 80’s Bond film along with some hugely unconvincing CGI vehicles and CGI assisted stunts. Plus it doesn’t help that the script is paper-thin (not a pun) and the characters likewise, so we aren’t really invested in them when they are running and jumping and shooting. But, to his credit, Mangold keeps it kinetic and keeps it fun so he hasn’t shamed himself and I’m still a fan.
Crap! This review is about double the length I was originally intending and way longer than this film deserves. So I’m gonna end it right after this next bit.
KNIGHT AND DAY is pure fluff but rises just a couple of notches above average thanks mainly to the efforts of Mr Cruise and Mr Mangold. However it won’t prove to be a stand out effort on either of their future CVs. File and forget. 2.5 (out of 5)
End of line.