At the Movies with John Keogh

Knight And Day

DIRECTED BY: James Mangold

STARRING: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard


In the first five minutes of Knight And Day, Cameron Diaz manages to get past airport security with a shedload of strange implements in her bag, then has her pick of seats to stretch out on when she boards the almost-empty plane. If you were to stop there, you could say that this is the most laughably far-fetched film of the past decade. But read on, if you will. It gets better.

She then discovers she’s on the same flight as Tom Cruise, the handsome stranger she “accidentally” bumped into twice at the airport. He saves her a nasty bump on the head when her case comes hurtling out of the overhead bin during a spot of turbulence, but can’t save her shirt from a spilt drink. And while she’s in the bathroom dolling herself up, he kills the rest of the passengers and both of the pilots. One unfortunate fellow even experiences death by airplane oxygen mask. The flight attendant never mentioned that in the safety drill.

When Cameron returns, herself and Tom have a grand ould laugh about the murders, before Tom goes off to the cockpit to crash land the plane in a field. Tom offers her a spiked drink, and she has just enough time to hear his warning about the big bad Federal agents who will come looking for her, before she passes out and wakes up at home in bed. Just one of those days, I suppose. Everything is going your way, then you end up on the run with a good looking homicidal lunatic. Sure you know how it is.

Turns out Tom is a genuine CIA agent. Or is he? Probably. But maybe not. Anyway, he’s in possession of a device which the bad guys wants really, really badly. Though they may not be villains at all. They could be good guys, but Peter Sarsgaard doesn’t look like one. He has a bit of a sneery head on him, whereas Tom is funny and charming and has lovely teeth.

Which or whether, Peter and his dark horse buddies end up chasing Tom and Cameron around the world – with pit stops in California, Jamaica, Austria and Spain, where a herd of bulls joins in the chase, as they do when they see foreigners acting the clown.

And the pretty duo end up in many a tight scrape, though we don’t always see how they manage to escape – because whenever it looks impossible, Tom slips the lady another sleepy dose and we all wake up in a happier place. Which gets annoying. Flash Gordon wouldn’t stand for that carry on. Or MacGyver, either.

“What? Close my eyes and it will all be better? No! All I need is a pen, and a shoe lace, and a hair clip, and some ear wax, and we’ll blow our way outta here!”

Then again, everything about Knight And Day is silly and everyone involved is along for the gas. They’re certainly not on board for the love of great characters or a half sensible plot – the story, and the humans in it, are there simply for the sake of the action. Lots of it, and the more ludicrous the better.

And that’s all very entertaining for a while. Sometimes there’s even a good laugh or two, the odd funny one liner. Which makes you suspect that what director James Mangold (better known for intelligent dramas like Walk The Line and 3:10 To Yuma) and screenwriter Patrick O’Neill originally had in mind was a genuinely clever romantic comedy about a spy and a beautiful girl – until the studio suits got a hold of it and put it through the CGI action machine.

In the end, the result is overkill. Which is a pity, because Cruise and Diaz make a fine leading pair, and what could have been a triumphant return to the top for Cruise, turns out to be nothing much more than fluff.

Enjoyable fluff, mind, but not half the film it could have been.


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