Thursday, June 24, 2010

KNIGHT & DAY / ***

Distributor: Fox
Release Date: June 23, 2010
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 130 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

“Knight & Day” has a lot going against it. For one, I’ve been seeing the trailer since December (I believe “Avatar” was the first film it was attached to). Secondably, stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are hardly my favorite actors, and they’ve both lost a great deal of the star luster they used to have. Finally, Fox mysteriously changed its release date to Wednesday, June 23 instead of the originally planned (and more sensible) Friday, June 25.

In a final interesting turn, the latest trailers I’ve seen on TV have touted it as “Tom Cruise at his ‘Jerry Maguire’ best” and “the best made for adults movie of the summer.” Did a focus group reveal that the only people who care about Tom Cruise nowadays are the people who are old enough to remember when he was relevant?

But I digress. I went into “Knight & Day” with a negative attitude, and to my surprise I actually enjoyed the movie. It’s certainly ridiculous on a grand scale, but Cruise, Diaz, and director James Mangold embrace the film’s inherent stupidity and run with it to supremely entertaining results.

Cruise plays Roy Miller, a super secret super spy who “runs into” June Havens (Diaz) in an airport. He tries to keep her off his flight, but she manages to weasel her way on board. While she’s in the bathroom Miller kills all the other passengers (who were assuredly bad guys) and the pilots. They crash land the plane, and somehow Miller manages to get June back home.

The next day June is approached by a man named Fitzgerald (the underused Peter Sarsgaard). They want Roy Miller. What does Roy Miller have that they want? Don’t worry – the screenplay by Patrick O’Neill (his first screenplay) will tell you what you need to know and when you need to know it, but I will say that it’s been years since I’ve seen a MacGuffin used to effectively.

The rest of the film is a nearly constant chase sequence peppered with witty, unrealistic banter. Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line,” “Cop Land”) gets the most out of his stars, and also wisely surrounds them with a talented supporting cast like Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Marc Blucas, and Celia Weston.

With modest goals and a keen awareness of its own sense of ridiculous fun, “Knight & Day” managed to exceed my expectations and become a pleasant summer surprise.

Theater: Rave Motion Pictures Festival Plaza 16, Montgomery, AL
Time: 200 pm
Date: June 24, 2010

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