Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz Meet Cute in High-Octane ‘Knight and Day’

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Average: 4 (2 votes) Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Whenever there is a audacious and entertaining action thriller like “Knight and Day,” how do the characters stay so calm? Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise are shot at, nearly blown up, asked to drive and leap around like lunatics, yet remain perfectly white-toothed calm. A normal human reaction would be ‘Oh my gaaaaaaaaaawd!”

Tom Cruise is Roy Miller, super CIA spy, who connects with ordinary citizen June Havens (Cameron Diaz) in a Wichita airport. Using her to transport an ultra-secret invention through security, Miller thinks that will be the last time he’ll need her. But it turns out that this spy is being shadowed by other CIA agents, led by Agent Fitzgerald (a deliciously oily Peter Sarsgaard).

It turns out that Miller has gone rogue, in an attempt to protect the invention that he thinks is being stolen by Agent Fitzgerald. So when the shadowing CIA puts June back on Miller’s flight, the real chase begins. Miller must disarm every passenger on the flight and make it look like nothing to the unsuspecting June. She does start to suspect something, though, when Miller crash lands the airplane in a corn field.

Risky Business: Cameron Diaz as June and Tom Cruise as Agent Roy Miller in ‘Knight and Day’
Risky Business: Cameron Diaz as June and Tom Cruise as Agent Roy Miller in ‘Knight and Day’
Photo credit: Frank Masi for © Twentieth Century Fox

From Boston to New York to a small island in the tropics to Austria and finally Spain, the CIA and evil organized crime go after the precious invention, and Roy Miller must elude them, while at the same time keeping tabs on his new partner, June Havens. Is this any way for two people to “meet cute”?

There are action sequences on steroids here, and in a popcorn movie sense the film delivers the goods (although the dead or shot or run over body count is quite extreme, don’t these henchmen and spies have mothers who mourn them, too?). Cameron Diaz’s June character is nicely set up as a antique car restorer, and Diaz is one of the few glamour actresses that can pull that off – she has a blue collar air. And that also provides an easy way to explain her precise driving skills, in a flipped out segment in Boston that would be on the news for weeks in real life.

At some points, the humans seem quite small in the midst of these giant action stunts. In fact, Tom Cruise has a hard time understanding his spy-who-loved-her character. He is so low keyed we expect to find out that he is a new super weapon, an android robot that has been programmed to learn love. Knight and Day reasonably could have been the prequel to “The Blade Runner Meets Minority Report.”

Patrick O’Neill’s script is fun, taunt and reasonable, and the casting is right in key supporting roles. Peter Sarsgaard is the kind of character actor that immediately makes us smile when he appears on screen, because usually he delivers something different or quirky to an assigned role. His conflicted Fitzgerald is tightly wound and his unraveling takes place inherently within the context of the story. Props also to Paul Dano, as the young inventor Simon Feck, a perfect nerd in this imperfect world.

Fun Date: Cruise and Diaz on Location in Seville, Spain with ‘Knight and Day’
Fun Date: Cruise and Diaz on Location in Seville, Spain with ‘Knight and Day’
Photo credit: Frank Masi for © Twentieth Century Fox

The film is seamlessly directed by James Mangold (”Walk the Line”), who puts a nice gloss on even the dirtiest settings. An old warehouse in Brooklyn, for example, takes on the high tech gleam of a hidden laboratory, when security agents drop in and begin to exchange gunfire from galactic-style firearms. The most exotic locations, such as Austria and Spain, have a picture postcard quality about them, why waste the opportunity to highlight a nice working vacation?

Another impressive thing about this action thriller, that it wasn’t afraid to get odd. June has a ex-boyfriend who she just had broken up with, and he provides some awkward laughs. Roy Miller has parents he keeps tabs on, and they keep wondering why their lottery numbers keep scoring.

And finally, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz share their well-earned stardom, in the type of roles that imbue summer movies with an enjoyable familiarity that blends with the barbecue smells and the sounds of fireworks. It’s that time of year when the world falls in love with an improbable spy and his potential girlfriend.

“Knight and Day” opens everywhere June 23rd. Featuring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano and Marc Blucas, written by Patrick O’Neill,
directed by James Mangold. Rated “PG-13” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2010 Patrick McDonald,

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