Knight and Day
by Richard von Busack
It’s hard to tell who’s too old for whom: the script for the stale slice-of-cake spy movie Knight and Day or the actors reciting it. The theory must have been: if the plot arcs, the characters don’t have to, even if the plot couldn’t fill a coke spoon.
Boston repair-garage owner June (Cameron Diaz) encounters mischievous yet oddly trustworthy secret agent Roy (Tom Cruise) in the Wichita airport. Soon the two are flying a jet into a cornfield; after which FBI agents pursue them from all directions as they scoot around the eastern seaboard. They head to the Caribbean, then to Salzburg, then Seville: it’s the familiar palms-to-the-pines trajectory of the Bond movie we aren’t going to be getting in the near future, dammit.
Diaz is repeatedly knocked out by Cruise with some sort of super-secret anesthesia, so she can keep waking up looking tousled and post-coital. Cruise hide his own crows feet behind sunglasses. Meanwhile, the really nothing villain (a Spanish arms dealer played by Jordi Molla) pursues the customary widget, an everlasting battery called “The Zephyr” built by alterna-scientist Paul Dano.
One moment of passing cuteness has Diaz blabbing away because of truth serum (it’s a slight recycle of a Woody Allen bit in Zelig). But the filmmaker’s faith in strikingly cheap-looking green screen sinks Knight and Day—except in rare instances, you can’t even really see the locations, which are one furry, dim or foggy computer fabrication after another. The nadir is a replica of an NYC freeway at night when there’s not even a chase going on. Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) shows his customary leadenness for choreographing gunfights. The key to the Bond movies, Roald Dahl claimed, was that you could kill as many people as you liked as long as you didn’t do it sadistically. Mangold tries to revive the formula—making a winking shootemup among a slamdance of SUVs–but he seems to have seized the wrong end of the 1960s: Knight and Day is more redolent of the spy capers filmed when everyone was sick to death of making them, let alone watching them. The chirpy Hall and Oates on the soundtrack only adds to the air of the synthetic; the two stars are trying to coast when they’re on flat dreary ground.
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