James Mangold's Knight and Day
Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:
Knight and Day (2010)
James Mangold's "Knight and Day" is an action-packed, edge of your seat thrill ride that barely pauses long enough for you to take a breath. It's the kind of movie that has plot, but not too much plot to get in the way of having a good time, all wrapped up in a story that ends up taking you around the world as it keeps its main characters in continuous danger.
The story begins at an airport as June Havens (Cameron Diaz) is trying to catch a flight home for her sister's wedding. She accidentally bumps into Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), whom she meets up with again on the plane. While she is in the bathroom, several people suddenly try to kill Roy, who has apparently stolen something very valuable and is being sought by many. With everyone else on the plane dead, including the pilots, Roy has to make an emergency landing, warning June afterward that people will be looking for her....dangerous people.
June isn't quite sure what to believe, but soon after, the FBI comes looking for her, which requires Roy to intervene and rescue here. He eventually reveals that he is a rogue agent who was set up and is now trying to protect a perpetual power source, codenamed "Zephyr." Once the two of them team up, they must go on the run and try to expose the agent that set up Roy.
That might have seemed a little spoilerish, but really, the "perpetual power source" could have been anything. It could have been nuclear secrets or any kind of deadly weapon. The only purpose the power source has is as a plot device to keep the story moving along.
One of the things that "Knight and Day" does so well is keeping up its fast pace. In all honesty, after the film is over, you probably aren't going to be commenting to your buddies about how complex and spellbinding the plot was. This is an action-comedy-romance, so plot doesn't come into play that much, that is, not nearly as much as its action sequences.
The film wastes no time in getting right to the point on the plane ride and continuing with the rescue sequence and multiple escapes. There's a particularly well-done chase scene set in Spain where our heroes are breezing through the streets on a motorcycle. It has all the required narrow misses with bullets flying through the air. At one point, they even manage to pop a wheelie while one fires forward and the other fires backward. Entertaining? Certainly. Plausible? Well, like "The A-Team," you have to let some things slide for the purposes of having fun.
Another thing that helps keep the fast pace alive is the way the film is scripted. Patrick O'Neill's screenplay has many scenes that have Cruise and Diaz firing one-liners back and forth to each other. There are a few periods when the film slows down to add even more dialogue, but this is usually to add a bit more to the plot so it doesn't become just one long action sequence.
It turns out that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz have some pretty good chemistry on screen. They're able to pull of the rapid-fire dialogue quite well and both of them have enough charm and personality to turn this into at least a somewhat plausible situation. Though they are constantly in danger of being killed, the screenplay and their charm even manage to come through with some funny moments.
This is slightly new territory for director James Mangold, whose most action-oriented film to date had been the impressive "3:10 to Yuma." He's shown that he can handle even faster-paced action sequences without having them turn into a mess on the screen like some directors. This, coupled with the performances and O'Neill's script, make "Knight and Day" a fun film that will please fans of the action genre. 3/4 stars.
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