Thursday, 12 August 2010

Knight and Day


Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Patrick O'Neill
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis

One's enjoyment of Knight and Day will depend on one's tolerance for escapist entertainment and one's fondness or dislike of the two leading stars. This is a film about escapist entertainment and zips along from one zany set piece to another buoyed by the stars' infectious chemistry. If you have to analyze every film for its cinematic worth and not just go along for the ride then you will no doubt not enjoy Knight and Day. But if you enjoy an action comedy for what it is then Knight and Day is a fun concoction of stunts and smirks in the Bird on a Wire mould.

Roy Miller (Cruise) is a spy on the run from his former agency who bumps into June Havens (Diaz) at an airport. After some plot contrivance that gets her on a plane with Roy, and some other dodgy looking people, June inadvertently finds herself thrust into a world of crashing planes, automatic gunfire and lots of shifty looking agents continuously telling her she will be 'safe' and 'secure' if she just comes with them. Now on the run with Miller, June begins to question whether she has chosen the right side as Miller's erratic behaviour leads them into ever increasing danger.

Knight and Day isn't always subtle as the comedy is occasionally forced, the action bombastic and the script zig-zags from one implausible set up to another. The tone shifts from knockabout comedy to in-your-face action with wild abandonment, it not always being clear whether this is a romantic comedy retooled with a high action quotient or an action film with added romance and comedy. Not that it really matters as under James Mangold's tight direction (having a little more fun here after heavy hitters Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma) the heady cocktail of action and laughs just stays the right side of light entertainment. The leading actors great chemistry improves matters also the two trading quips and bouncing dialogue off one another as they dodge bullets and engage in high speed chases. Cruise and Diaz bring an effortless charm that always reminds us this is supposed to be fun no matter how absurd things get.

The film is also packed with huge set pieces. Mangold, having shown he can cut action with the end shootout of Cop Land and ace gunfights in 3:10 to Yuma, gets to play big here, ramping up the stunts and action sequences. On the whole the action is fun, tight and exhilarating, free from all that fast cut nonsense, allowing us to see the stunts actually happening. Unfortunately he can't stay away from CGI overload with too many of the action scenes "enhanced " with it. Not always a bad thing, though it does push the law of physics here, but for a big summer blockbuster it is decidedly ropey CGI. It never quite blends in with the live action and the background projection seen in all the driving scenes is sometimes shockingly bad. Please Hollywood put actors back out in real moving cars like you used to and stop using crappy green screen to fill in the background later in order to save money. The set pieces are best mainly when done for real which include a rooftop chase and the extended opening fight on board an airplane: arguably the best action scene of the film.

Despite the bad CGI and predictable plot developments, Knight and Day is an entertaining action comedy. Nothing groundbreaking but refreshing in its quest to just simply entertain, pretty much free of schmaltz and the mushy stuff and surprisingly crammed with a boatload of barnstorming action. Not bad.

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