by Jeff Meyers
Tom Cruise is a super spy. Cameron Diaz is super hot. At 37, she still looks great in a bikini. Blam blam blam! There's a battery that keeps going and going and going. Foreign bad guys with lots of bullets want it. Peter Saarsgard does his sleazebag Peter Saarsgard thing. Lame comic banter. Exotic locales. Pew pew pew! A scary predator drone. Paul Dano is wasted as a Hall and Oates-loving nerd. Big explosions. Obvious plot twists. The ending features a lame joke recited by one character repeated by the other.
After the disaster that was Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky, it's nice to see that Cruise and Diaz can generate sparks as a couple. Come to think of it, it's nice to see Cruise connect with anyone on screen at all. The Scientologist star is notorious for acting in a vacuum, but here, in his breeziest performance yet, he appears to be having a damn good time. His Roy Miller is a big goofy Boy Scout who just happens to have mad skillz when it comes to killing people. It's an oddly infectious take on an action hero, and Cruise pulls it off with aplomb. He isn't given much in the way of witty repartee, but toothy smiles and a hyper-casual delivery enliven the banalities. Diaz similarly puts her formidable charisma to work, but her June is, unfortunately, a swoony, screaming girly-girl who only steps it up in the film's final reel. Still, there is that smile. And the bikini.
Yeah, Knight and Day is a relentlessly ludicrous and overworked popcorn rom-com, but the pacing is brisk, the action constant and the chase scenes frequently amusing — a date-night flick with no sex and explosions replacing orgasms. In any other context, Patrick O'Neill's wildly implausible yet highly predictable script would be pecked apart by a flock of first-year screenwriting students, so give credit to director James Mangold (Walk the Line, Identity, Copland), who puts his character-centric skills to near-miraculous use, creating both affection and sexual tension between the leads even as shit is endlessly blowing up around them.
For $10, you could much worse, and how encouraging to see a big-budget escapist flick that isn't a sequel or comic book adaptation!
Jeff Meyers writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.