Smells like a well-known wood stain – Knight and Day

This summer blockbuster starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz has “hate me” written all over it but despite all efforts it’s hard to hate this film. There is indeed some wooden acting and some hokey dialogue and plot points you could fly a plane through but overall this film is a bit R*****l. It has some absolutely brilliant set pieces; motorcycle crashing through a bull run, Cruise takes on plane full of assassins, high-speed chases (again and again and again).

Cruise plays Roy Miller a secret agent who may or may not have gone rogue who bumps into June Havens (Cameron Diaz) in an airport. June is a small town girl whose life is not going anywhere interesting until she meets Roy. Despite his best efforts he can’t seem to leave her alone, she gets drawn into his agent adventures and they spend the next 2 hours gleefully hurtling from one action set piece to another.

Cruise seems more determined than ever in this film to show he isn’t old (a mere 48) or scared godamnit he is an action man (!) and to be honest when you see him doing the work and seemingly most of his own stunts it is very impressive. Indeed James Mangold has been good to Tom Cruise with this film, casting him in a role that shows he can be funny as well as a bullet-dodging hero. He’s not quite Indiana Jones but his turn as Roy Miller is likeable and as honest as it can be considering the overall flatness of the writing. Diaz looks great and is her usual charming self, her natural tomboy shines through and she is great in the fast moving adventure scenes; it is a good on screen partnership. Both actors are used here to their full potential; pretty much cast to type and playing it that way but why the hell not.

James Mangold has a background that includes the brilliant 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line. This film is a big action movie to add to his canon but it’s not his best. Mangold says he saw this film as a return to older classics such as Charade or North by Northwest, but his desire to “not […] let Knight and Day become a James Bond movie” does not really come to fruition, especially with a direct reference to Tomorrow Never Dies girl-with-guns-on-a-motorcycle sequence. Not only that but the central idea of a perpetual energy machine is hokey and daft which compares to all the Bond plots we have ever sat through and yet doesn’t detract from the overall feel of the film. They spent a lot of cash on this and it shows.

Tom Cruise is one of the top 10 most successful stars at the box office and this is his second outing with Diaz, and far superior to the rancid and dull Vanilla Sky. They are obviously having a lot of fun crashing things, blowing stuff up and jet setting around the globe to some amazing locations.

Peter Sarsgaard, however, as agent Fitzgerald seems strangely out of place in this film; playing a seriously underwritten character, Miller’s nemesis. He feels like a mere bit part and does not engage in any way being neither scary nor dynamic (“phoned in” would be a “safe” bet). Paul Dano plays nerdy boy genius Simon Feck (don’t laugh) and delivers an off kilter weirdo, his niche it would seem.

With the rest of the summer blockbusters seemingly made up of superheroes, sequels and sci-fi this fun actioner might just be a sleeper hit. Switch off your brain and hang on for the ride.

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