2010 – 109mn – 12A

Directed by James Mangold. Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Maggie Grace, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano.

Review by Walter Nichols

IN Knight & Day, Cameron Diaz plays June Havens, a normal woman who finds her everyday life thrown upside down by mysterious secret agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), who has just realized he isn’t meant to survive his last mission. Taking June with him, Roy goes on the run around the globe, and they slowly fall for each other – as well as learn they can only count on one another.

The action comedy was meant to revive Tom Cruise’s career, returning him to what he does best. Instead, it tanked in the US, and Cruise’s standing as a movie star is under more threat than ever. It’s easy to see why. The film (originally and more conservatively titled Wichita, after the place the story starts in) is a confused mess, shooting for old-school James Bond or Cary Grant charm but achieving only smugness and self-satisfaction. At their worst, Cruise and Cameron Diaz are two of the laziest actors around, and they’re pretty much at their worst here. Diaz gives us the usual sexy ditz, Cruise gives us the usual big fake mega-watt smile and crinkly eyes when he’s doing comedy, and the intent frown and commitment when he’s doing action and emotion. Unless you have the superhuman power to divorce his performance from his recent off-screen shenanigans, you’ll believe none of it.

It doesn’t help that James Mangold is more enamored with production value than he is with his characters. We get stunning action set-pieces and gorgeous locales, but because the story is a careless and endless chase hung over a meaningless McGuffin, none of it has any impact. The film also comes after the very similar Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Killers, and it never adds a fresh spin to the concept of two lovers wielding guns and kicking butt.

It is nice, however, to see a summer blockbuster geared for adults, rather than kids. The film manages to be occasionally light and stylish, sometimes mildly entertaining, but never memorable, and never of the level you’d expect from all the skill and talent assembled here. Every scene smacks of overconfidence, of trying too hard to be liked. At the same time the tone varies wildly, as if the film is trying to be everything at once without doing any one thing well. It labours, and labours, and labours some more. But you’ll probably have lost interest midway through watching it.

Star rating: 2 out of 5 stars