The majority of Knight and Day serves to show the audience that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz should still be allowed in movies. A more appropriate title for this film would be “Action Scenes Featuring Cruise and Diaz That We Don’t Really Take Seriously, And Neither Should You”. Neither of the leads take any part of this movie seriously, except for when Diaz’s character June Havens is in peril. They seem to know they’re in a movie where nothing can go wrong. The villains are very solemn though; it’s like they weren’t told they’re in a silly action-comedy.
The plot revolves around June Havens, who ends up being involved in the pursuit of a magical battery that is “the first perpetual motion device since the sun”. That’s a paraphrased quote, but that just gives you an idea of the type of dialogue you’ll hear throughout the film. Anyway, the battery is something that Tom Cruise’s character Roy Miller has, and the FBI, CIA and some other random group wants. Apparently such a device can be sold for a large profit.
We’re told that Miller has been set-up, and that he’s really the good guy of our story. Everyone else says the opposite, but if you’ve seen action-comedies before, you’ll likely be able to guess who’s telling the truth. June doesn’t trust anyone, and attempts to flee from all the groups, before finally cuddling up to Roy. And then wanting to leave. And then not. It goes on like this for a while; she’s a very indecisive person.
The parts of Knight and Day that work are the times when Tom Cruise is joking his way through the action scenes. There are a few key moments when he doesn’t take anything seriously — these moments are quite funny. They’re entertaining times for the audience, because even though there is absolutely no tension, we see how much fun the character is having, and we want to join in. For the most part, we get to, and we get to have a grand time as explosions are happening all around.
However, it becomes very clear that Cruise is the only thing that is holding this film together. There’s a 20-minute segment in the middle of the film where Cruise takes a leave of absence. We’re left with Diaz, and the film takes a turn for the worst. It drags for these 20 minutes, and this period of time was almost bad enough to make me want to turn it off. Its form is regained before the end, and the final few scenes are quite entertaining, but this time in the middle still left a negative thought in my head.
I mentioned that this film seems to be made in order to re-ignite the careers of its stars. In the case of Cruise, I think it was successful. Despite whatever off-screen antics he might engage in, he shows here that he still has charisma and charm as an actor. Even at almost 50 years old, he can carry an action-oriented film. Diaz, I was less impressed with. Now, good acting isn’t something that is necessary in a film like this, and it wasn’t what I was looking for. But star presence can go a long way, and Diaz didn’t seem to have that. This is shown directly whenever there’s an extended period without Cruise,
It almost seemed like director James Mangold was aware that Diaz is unable to carry a film as well, so he decided to give us scene after scene of action in hopes to distract us of this fact. For some of the film, this works. The stunts are fun, the action scenes are entertaining, and because neither actor is taking anything very seriously, it’s fun for us to watch. These large-scale set-pieces will probably be enough to distract audiences, for the most part, so I guess they are successful in what they do. They’re not creative or doing anything new, but they function.
The plot is a mess, but then again, you don’t go to a film like this for the plot. Whether Roy is telling the truth is what proves to be the central conflict, but we already know the truth: It doesn’t matter. The plot, and what side he’s truly on, is ultimately meaningless. We get to see him in a bunch of action scenes that take place in various locations around the world. Who ends up with the battery also doesn’t really matter. Take a step back for a moment and consider that the “baddest” person in this film just wants to make a little bit of extra cash. Who cares?
Ultimately, Knight and Day isn’t a complete waste of time, as it’s fairly entertaining for the majority of its runtime. If you can forgive a 20-minute segment that feels much longer than that where Tom Cruise isn’t present, then you’ll likely have quite a bit of fun with it. If nothing else, Knight and Day serves as a vehicle for Tom Cruise to show that he can still carry a film. And hey, if you can have fun, and Cruise can show off, you get a successful film.