Knight and Day Review

I love being right. In my trailer reviews for June 25 I said that Knight and Day was going to be better – in every respect – than its fellow summer action/comedy Killers.

I saw Knight and Day and I’m happy to say I was totally, totally right.

Knight and Day’s premise goes like this:

June meets Roy, a rogue spy, by chance on a plane and ends up getting dragged along as he tries to keep a deadly device away from foreign arms dealers and a CIA mole.

…whereas Killers can best be described as “girl meets boy, girl marries boy, half the movie passes, then random people try to kill them for no reason.” It was so relentlessly mediocre that I actually got bored watching it. Therefore, saying Knight and Day is better maybe doesn’t mean all that much. That’s why I’m laying out the reasons why you should see this movie in my review.

First Reason: Story

My biggest problem with Killers was that the script was a mess. You’ve got a huge chunk of time in the beginning in which nothing spy-like (or funny) happens, followed by some random shooting interspersed with half-assed subplots capped by an ending that was slapped on there without regard for whether it made any sense or not. Knight and Day is tightly plotted and even makes callbacks to itself in the later scenes. Kudos to Patrick O’Neill. Nice writing, buddy.

JUNE: I’m wearing a bathing suit. How did I get in this bathing suit?

Listen for echoes of the above later on. I love it when the screenwriter actually cares enough about the script to remember what he wrote and refer back to it later on (but with a twist!)

Second Reason: Comedy

Knight and Day is funny, and not always in a standard way. Usually with action movies, you’ve got a smartass character whose job it is to say smartass things like “I guess we found his weakness: bullets.” And that’s all you get. With Knight and Day, Patrick O’Neill actually uses storytelling devices I would have called lazy in a serious film and totally makes them work because it’s for comedic effect. For example:

Here is June waking up confused. She does a lot of that in this movie because Roy regularly drugs her.

The effect of this is that we see only bits and pieces of the transition from the action set piece to the quieter scene. It could have been a lazy “oh, I don’t know how they get out of this so I’ll just make her pass out” move, but this guy knows what he’s doing. We see enough of it to a) laugh and b) guess how it went down.

Third Reason: Character

The characters in Knight and Day are reasonably well-rounded for an action film. Their skill sets (i.e. fireman, car mechanic) actually make a difference to how they react to situations and June (Cameron Diaz) has a really great character development arc.

I’m all screamed out. How about I make myself useful and drive the car now?

Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard), the bad guy, is delightfully evil…

Here are his henchmen – I like to call them the “Sarsgoons” – accosting June

… and Roy (Tom Cruise) is hilariously insane. He has a tendency to fling himself off of moving vehicles with the gleeful abandon of a modern day Prince of Persia.

Whoopie!!! This is so much better than jumping on Oprah’s sofa.

This was a good role choice for Tom Cruise because it’s not that much of a stretch. It’s not that he can’t act (I think Tropic Thunder banished all doubts about that) but that everyone knows he’s insane in real life, so they buy into his character quicker.

Fourth Reason: Action

Though the actual action setpieces are fairly generic as far as the genre goes (plane crash, motorcycle chase, fighting on a train, etc), because this is a comedy James Mangold (the director) and his people are able to put a bit of a unique spin on these common action movie situations. Observe:

Roy fighting people on an airplane: generic.

Roy fighting people on an airplane while June primps herself to hit on him in the washroom: hilarious.

Fifth Reason: Chemistry

Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise is an odd pairing. She’s not really the action movie type and he’s kinda been out of the action game or a while. But it works!

See? Look at it working! They’re so cute!

It’s not a case of “he’s too old, so it’s weird” (as in every Sean Connery movie since 1965) or “she’s too old and it’s weird” (as in The Proposal), or “she doesn’t have any skills to contribute” (as in Killers). They come around to working together quite slowly but when they do they’re definitely on equal footing. And it’s awesome.

You drive, I’ll blast bad guys. Go go go!!

So there you go: five good reasons to go see Knight and Day. What more do you want? I only had one problem with it, and it is this: I have no idea where the “day” part of the title comes from. A piddling concern when you consider that it’s actioney, it’s fun, I had a great time watching it. You will too, so go buy tickets already!

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