You can see what James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) and co. were trying to achieve with Knight and Day, a star driven chase movie with plenty of action. They aimed for a non-stop thrill ride with comic overtones but, alas, have failed to impress, delivering a standard blockbuster that has opened poorly in the States despite its two leads – Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, reuniting for the first time since Vanilla Sky – and has garnered fairly negative reviews.
Roy Miller (Cruise) meets June Havens (Diaz) at an airport early in the film, and it isn’t long before things speed up, with a plane crash and plenty of fighting in the first ten minutes. From there the film hops between locations and set-pieces as Miller’s quirky personality and dubious motives come under question. All of this revolves around a central MacGuffin known as the Zephyr, the invention of an underused Paul Dano. The fact that the central plot point is almost casually thrown away in the final reel is the final evidence of this film’s unsubtle approach.
The action is frequent and mildly boring throughout (the film’s supposed piece de resistance, a motorbike chase during a bull run, is monumentally disappointing), whilst the relationship between Miller and Haven fizzes occasionally (the pair have undeniable chemistry) but isn’t ever allowed to do more than that. Cruise gets some decent comic moments and Diaz is likable, though she doesn’t do much except scream and talk over the action scenes, which are loud and occasionally suffer from dodgy CGI.
One of film’s running jokes involves what can only be described as ‘catch-up’ sequences, in which a character is rendered unconscious for some length of time and as such has only brief recollections of how they came be where they are. You can see the thinking behind this, but in reality these sequences end up mocking the viewer. Why should we watch a film that thinks it’s funny to leave gaping holes in the narrative, either because it can’t or simply doesn’t want to explain what’s going on?
This film is saved from complete failure by Cruise, who seems to be having fun and does his best to inject some verve into the lacklustre plot and monotonous chase sequences. Overall though, this is very standard fare, and in a summer when it will be competing with Christopher Nolan’s marvellous (and intelligent) Inception, it would be criminal if this were to win the box office.