Knight and Day

Either you like Tom Cruise or you don’t.

If you do, you’ll probably have a ball watching Knight and Day. If you don’t, he may just charm you into liking him… and then you’ll have a ball watching Knight and Day.

Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and written by first-timer Patrick O’Neill (who, oddly enough, played slacker-dude Denny in Say Anything…) Knight and Day is flat-out great.

It’s preposterous, over-the-top, and wildly inconceivable… but it’s also funnier than most of what’s come out this year, and it’s got two bona fide stars that can carry a movie with their eyes closed (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor).

Secret agent Roy Miller (Cruise) is so cool, so charismatic, and so low-key that he almost becomes Rainman-esque at times. Bullets are literally whizzing around him, and he stops to give June (Cameron Diaz) a few tidbits of advice on how, you know, to stay alive.

There’s no screaming. He doesn’t get upset. He just explains (like a fella offering tips to a golfing buddy) that bullets are bad, and that she needs to stay close.

It’s that restraint that gets June to trust Roy implicitly (and immediately), and it also may just be Cruise’s secret weapon to getting back into the public’s good graces.

Roy is on the run from the CIA for stealing a top-secret ‘thing’ (it’s briefly explained, but it’s not really important), and as Knight and Day opens, he’s scouting the Wichita airport for a patsy who can (unwittingly) help him leave town with said thing. Of course June is the obvious choice, so they hop on a flight to Boston. And so begins the globe-trotting and bullet-ducking.

Cruise plays Roy as a super-casual Jason Bourne, and Diaz’s June is the character that Katherine Heigl tried (and failed miserably) to be in the recent Killers— the naive, skittish woman who eventually comes around and starts poppin’ bad guys herself.

Along the way Roy and June visit the Alps, Spain, and the Azores (actually, it’s the same beach in Jamaica where Cruise filmed Cocktail). There’s bad guys, badder guys, and poor June gets drugged (and dragged to a new continent) so many times, it’s amazing that she’s still able to walk.

Through it all, though, Cruise and Diaz’s characters never become silly or lampoon-ish, and that alone saves Knight and Day. The action sequences (and there are plenty) are sublimely over-the-top, and the directing and editing are tight enough to keep the movie from ever dragging.

This is one of those rare instances where a movie lives up to the expectations delivered in the trailer. If you watch the trailer and are at all amused, interested, or otherwise sucked in, head to the theater.

…and who knows? You may just learn to like Tom Cruise (again) in the process.

3.5/5 stars