The breakneck silliness of ‘Knight and Day’


Cruise and Diaz catch some air in "Knight and Day" (Images courtesy 20th Century Fox, photos by Frank Masi)

I spent the first few minutes of "Knight and Day" trying to work out on whom Tom Cruise had modeled his character. He plays Roy Miller, a rogue U.S. government agent who has filched a super-duper mega-battery which will change the future of humanity. He's the kind of guy who wears sunglasses inside so he can scope out all the angles, and sees little problem in taking out a planeload of former colleagues sent to stop him.

He enlists the help of a ditzy hot-rod restorer June Havens (Cameron Diaz) whose early impression of Roy as a dreamboat sent to cure the romantic vacuum in her life is soon replaced by the realization there's a pretty calculating assassin behind the boyish smile.

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Roy tells June the government folks will try to convince her he is crazy, and then behaves in a way which seems to prove his erstwhile employers are right.


June does try to do the smart thing and run away screaming, but Roy keeps coming back, having identified some sort of cosmic connection between them. (The ex-who-doesn't-know-when-to-quit motif will no doubt resonate with the teenage demographic so necessary for summer blockbuster success.)

It's his non-stop barrage of cool, calm advice and encouragement as he helps June through yet another gun battle which reveals Cruise's character-building inspiration - a kindergarten teacher. Again this may help the teenage comfort level with the movie.

It's a device which not only helps June master the subtleties of shooting an Uzi from the back of a speeding motorbike, but also lulls the audience through the increasingly silly plot mix of deceptions, double-crosses, coincidences, and iPhones which can track people half-way across the continent using multiple cameras.

That lulling is all to the good though as director James Mangold ("Walk the Line", "3.10 to Yuma") takes the film on a whirlwind global tour of the beautiful places where spies apparently hang out. The fact that there's not a lot of chemistry between June and Roy also gets obscured in the movie's breakneck pace.

But the car chases are spectacular, and there is even a vaguely pleasing resolution to the whole thing, with enough of the loose ends tied up to make it unlikely there will be a sequel. Which in this day and age is usually no bad thing.