Imagine if Charade was updated for modern audiences, keeping the same chemistry of two star leads while adding plenty of fun action and you have Knight & Day, an imperfect but superior action adventure that sets out to deliver fun by the bucketload. And, in my opinion, succeeds.
Tom Cruise plays Roy Miller, a mysterious man who at first charms June Havens (Cameron Diaz) before bringing major confusion and danger into her life. He kills a lot of people in a plane and then brings it down for a very bumpy landing before warning June that people will be coming after her, people who will make up lies about him, people who will try to make her feel secure with words like “safe” and, well, “secure”. If she gets stuck in any situation with these people then she is far from safe or secure. June doesn’t have much time to take this in as she’s drugged and soon slips into unconsciousness. When she wakes up she starts to piece things together quickly but she is unable to avoid the people she was warned about and Roy soon returns to help her stay alive while he cleans up a very messy situation.
Cruise is on top form here, his winning smile used to great effect as his character either exudes confidence or madness. It’s a shame that Cameron Diaz has a few too many moments in which she’s “shrieking blonde female” but there are a few scenes that give her a bit more to do and she throws herself into the action with gusto. Peter Sarsgaard is as good as ever playing the potentially dangerous agent John Fitzgerald. He and his boss, played by Viola Davis, are quietly threatening even though they could just be trying to bring in a rogue agent. Paul Dano beings youthful innocence to his role, playing . . . . . . an innocent youth who also happens to be smart enough to invent something that ends up causing a lot of trouble due to its value. I also have to mention Marc Blucas, very enjoyable as a fireman who used to date the leading lady and who wants another chance. He’s not onscreen for long but his small role is funny and sweet.
The script by Patrick O’Neill is brisk and sharp, weaving plenty of wry humour throughout every scene. This may not have laugh out loud moments but it does have a fair share of great lines and injects each action set-piece with inventiveness and sheer entertainment. Director James Mangold also does a great job and happily allows for the exuberance and energy to push at the edges of every frame. The only fumble is in the grand finale, which is an overblown chase sequence during the running of the bulls in Spain. It’s still a good sequence but things get a little too . . . . . busy, meaning that even the practical stunts and effects moments seem to be caught up in a whirlwind of CGI.
The film is candy floss, it’s fluff, but it’s damn good candy floss. It takes all of the tools available nowadays and uses them to embellish a surprisingly old-fashioned vehicle based around sheer star power. I, for one, was pleased with the end result.
DIRECTOR: JAMES MANGOLD
WRITER: PATRICK O’NEILL
STARS: TOM CRUISE, CAMERON DIAZ, PETER SARSGAARD, PAUL DANO, JORDI MOLLA, VIOLA DAVIS, MARC BLUCAS
RUNTIME: 109 MINS APPROX