“Knight and Day” introduces us to an exciting new talent: Tom Cruise.
Sure, we know Cruise after his three decades in the business. We know way too much about him, actually, thanks to his well-documented off-screen antics the past few years.
“Knight and Day” is a refreshing reminder, though, of why he is a superstar. He has that undeniable charisma about him and he really can act, something for which he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves.
Here, he plays a Vintage Tom Cruise Role: He gets to be charming but also toy with the idea that he might be a little nuts.
As secret agent Roy Miller, he has that twinkle in his eye and that sexy little smile, but he’s also strangely calm in the middle of elaborate car chases and shootouts – relaxed, articulate and abidingly courteous when most mortals would be freaking out. That’s part of the fun of the character, and the movie as a whole.
Cruise’s presence also helps keep things light, breezy and watchable when the action – and the story itself – spins ridiculously out of control.
The film starts with Roy confidently landing a plane in a cornfield after killing the handful of people on board – people who were there to kill him anyway. (The casual approach to a staggering body count is also a clue we’re not supposed to take any of this seriously.)
The one person who survives is someone he now must protect: June Havens (Cameron Diaz), just a regular gal from Boston who was locked in the bathroom at the time and therefore clueless to the carnage.
Cruise and Diaz, who previously shared the screen in 2001’s “Vanilla Sky,” are oddly appealing together. He’s self-assured, she’s skittish, and the way “Knight and Day” is shot, you can’t even tell that she’d tower over him in real life.
A scene in which she’s high on truth serum allows her trademark vibrancy to shine through. But the romance between them feels forced and is one of the movie’s chief weaknesses. Having June fall for Roy quickly, and having things wrap up neatly at the end the way they do, seems too cutesy and pat.
Before that, though, the two hop all over the globe trying to protect some super-duper battery and its nerdy creator (Paul Dano) from another agent (Peter Sarsgaard) who may be the true bad guy; then again, Roy may be the one who’s gone rogue.
The running gag is that Roy drugs June when something ugly is going to happen that she either shouldn’t see or wouldn’t be able to handle. Then poof! She wakes up in another country wearing different clothes.
If you stopped to think about it, this tactic would seem more than a little creepy; it’s downright invasive.
But as is the case with much of the movie, it’s something you probably shouldn’t stop to think about too hard.