Thursday Night Movie Club
Knight and Day
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Release Date: 23 June 2010

Director: James Mangold
Tom Cruise
Cameron Diaz
Peter Sarsgaard
Jordi Mollà
Viola Davis
Paul Dano
Falk Hentschel
Marc Blucas
Lennie Loftin
Maggie Grace
Rich Manley
Roy Miller
June Havens
John Fitzgerald
Antonio Quintana
Isabel George
Simon Feck
April Havens
Knight and Day movie poster #1 Knight and Day movie poster #2

An innocent girl (well, innocent of the spy world) crosses paths with a rogue spy on the run from his own agency. This is the basic premise. Insert every verbal cliche and physical joke, like handling a gun for the first time, that you can think of. Congratulations! You have just written the screen play for Knight and Day.

Knight and Day or Day and Night or Night and Day... what's in a name? Knight and Day is surprising in only one aspect: neither of the main characters is named "Knight". The film is a "been there, done that" production.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Knight and DayTom Cruise plays rogue secret agent Knight... uh, scratch that. Tom Cruise plays secret agent Roy Miller. Tom Cruise does his own stunts. Well, at least that is something. What is the best method to take out a spy? Poison his martini, fake a suicide, drain the brake fluid from his car without cutting the lines. There are many ways to kill someone. Knight and Day goes for the novel approach of offing Miller at 30,000 feet on a public jet.

Major plot twist in the very first minute! Miller knows that the flight is a set up. The Ticket Agent, Flight Crew, Flight Attendants are all in on the mission. So he gets on board the plane anyway. June Havens (Diaz) is trying to board the same flight. The ticket agent tells her the plane is overbooked and she cannot board. Havens is mistakenly identified as Miller's accomplice and she is allowed to board the plane. What a bit of bad luck! Havens boards the plane and takes her seat completely oblivious to the fact that the plane is empty. In the trade, this ploy is known as character development.

So the question now: How do you kill Miller? Do you shoot him in the back while he walks down the boarding ramp? No. Do you shoot him the moment he boards the plane? Nope. Do you poison his drink once the plane is inflight? Nada! When Miller walks back to second-class to take in the local scenery, the assassins strike. Just like a slew of other similar movies, the trained assassins are a bunch of morons. They couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a bazooka.

Miller takes out everyone on the plane while Havens screams and shakes and shivers and all that other creative things regular people are supposed to do in this situation. Are the two survivors in dire straits. Hell No! Miller is a super spy. He can pilot jets, single-highhandedly drive a battle ship and fly a helicopter upside down. No need to fear, Miller is here! Or better yet, how about "It's Miller Time!" Surprisingly, this joke is not in the film. Must have been too cliché.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Knight and DayIn a clever piece of scriptwriting, here is the plot line for the remainder of Knight and Day: Boy meets girl; Boy saves girl; Boy and Girl fall in love; Boy and girl fall out of love; Boy and girl are reunited through various events; Boy saves girl; Girl saves boy; Boy and girl fall in love; Boy and girl live happily-ever-after. The End. Original idea down to the last frame.

The signature action sequence in Knight and Day is the motorcycle chase with Miller driving and Havens shooting at the bad guys. The scene is singular because Tom Cruise performs his own stunts. Other than that, there isn't much we haven't seen before in a car chase. Car chases do not write themselves despite what some directors think. A great car chase as in The French Connection or Bullitt requires meticulous planning of camera placement, composition of the shot and editing to put the elements together. Without pre-planning, the end result is lackadaisical. This is the end result of the entire film Knight and Day: Lackadaisical, at best.

Tom Cruise plays the role he was born to play. In other words, every role he has ever had. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Cameron Diaz still cannot act, unless playing the role of a ditsy blonde is acting. Now we're talking Academy Award material.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Knight and DayDirector James Mangold must have a background in music videos. The movie is full of tightly, edited shots. Either that or Mangold's attention span is about 2 seconds max. He loses focus and energy filming longer shots.

The bad guys aren't terribly menacing or scary. In point of fact, there really isn't anyone acting in this movie that poses even the slightest threat to Miller's safety. They must have gotten their firearms certificates inside a pack of Bazooka Bubble Gum. The acting is straight forward and by the book, just like the real C.I.A. handbook: "How to Be a Master Spy". All of them could use a lesson in acting from the great Jack Webb of TV's "Dragnet". At least Sargent Friday had a personality. Heck, we even cared about the guy. There isn't a whole lot to care about in Knight and Day.

On the topic of spies, aren't they supposed to be "covert"? This movie is so overt in the action sequences that the P.R. Department at the C.I.A. will be working overtime to hide their own mishaps.

I can think of plenty of things to do instead of going to this see Knight and Day. Reading the jokes inside a pack of Bazooka Bubble Gum comes to mind.