Friday, April 8, 2011

Movie Review: Knight and Day

Why aren't they pictured on the poster? Read more!
          Knight and Day is an interesting little movie. It was directed by James Mangold, who I like, and stars Tom Cruise, who I also (sometimes) like. Cameron Diaz I could take or leave. I don't find her half as charming as this movie does, but she doesn't make me cringe or anything.
        There's action, but there's no suspense. But should there be? It's a Tom Cruise action thriller. Were you expecting suspense? No, you're expecting cool. And it is cool. It's very cool. Eerily cool. Almost...too cool.

        The Skinny
        Early in the film, Tom Cruise (his character has a name-- which is Knight, by the way--but what's the point of giving him a name? Other than, you know, making a GREAT title) tells Cameron Diaz (ditto) that "the less she knows, the better things will be." If that's the case, then why are you reading this review? Stop. Here.

       Still with me? Great!
       I think Tom was on to something back there. When it comes to the plot of Knight and Day, if you want to call it that, there's not much to go on. There's some important thing that Tom Cruise is protecting and Cameron Diaz is the blonde collateral damage that has gotten caught up in the fun. But something is different. Based on how things are laid out in the beginning, it feels like Tom Cruise is the collateral, and that Cameron Diaz is the one commanding the plot.
      This switch is a nice welcome in the film, and the reason I continued watching it. The point of view is very close on her, and we never get crucial plot details because Tom Cruise continually, in a running joke, drugs her during the transitional times.
      You know how in action movies Tom Cruise seems to just appear in other countries, and we never see the boring stuff where he's on the plane? This movie skips those things by drugging the character, and waking her up at the next action scene.
      It's pretty hilarious, actually. In one montage, she goes to sleep in a gunfight in Boston, wakes up on a helicopter as it is crashing, falls back asleep, and then wakes up as Tom Cruise hangs from a ceiling with tape over his mouth. Of course, she falls back asleep, only to wake up on a beautiful beach on some remote island. Clever--she missed an entire James Bond film and woke up at the end.
      So, basically, there is no real plot. There are scenes. And some of them are quite funny. Sometimes the scenes are linked because that important object has moved, but I wouldn't call that plot, really.
      But, really, I prefer the movie this way. I hate it when Tom Cruise action movies give me exposition. Just show me the explosions and that winning smile.

We're HOW old?

          The Facts
          Knight and Day was not always planned to be what it has become. In other words, the Knight and Day I saw is not the one that was intended several years ago. In fact, it was a straightforward comedy about an aging woman trying to find love, only to get mixed up with a fake special agent in Paris.
         Then that script was bought, doctored, and re-written as Wichita and Trouble Man. Which is really a great title. That script was closer to the one we have now, except, you know, the protagonists were in their twenties, there were many action scenes added, it took place in (guess) and had almost no relation to the original screenplay.
       Then Tom Cruise got a hold of it. And get this, nothing was changed. Except for the names. Because the new title is GREAT.
      But there's a problem here. Tom Cruise is not in his twenties. Cameron Diaz is not in her twenties. However, the film doesn't really act like it. This is not a "age doesn't matter" scenario where fortysomethings do awesome athletic things and feel great about themselves. This is a middle-aged, fading movie stars not accepting their ages thing.
      If you don't believe, just watch the movie. How old is Cameron Diaz's sister supposed to be? 20? Younger? Why are Tom Cruise's parents only a few years older than him? This movie is weird.

Not in 3D! Hooray!
         The Verdict
         Let's face it. We all know why I watched this movie. Quentin Tarantino put it on his top 20 movies of 2010 list and I thought, "Whaaaaa....I must see this...." And I did. And it was...fine. Actually, I'll give it better. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. It was charming.
        I really liked it.
        I loved that part with the motorcycle (both) and the guns (all twenty) and the Tom Cruise smiling (???). In fact, I think this is the best action hero Tom Cruise has ever played. He's hilarious in it. Genuinely, intentionally hilarious. His character is so Tom Cruise. He compliments Cameron Diaz's character in absolutely hilarious ways, at inopportune moments, and the jokes actually work. You just have to see it to believe it.
       The whole last half hour had me excited, even if it was slipping slowly into formula. There's just something so fun about this movie. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes Tom Cruise. Because, lets face it, that's the movie. Even if he became an embarrassing-to-watch celebrity who shamed the film's studio so much that it refused to use his face on the official poster.
       He is great in it. And he is everything he has been for twenty years. No surprises, but hey, no 3D!!!

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