Animadversion: Knight & Day – Review by Kamran Jawaid & Farheen Jawaid

The following is the unedited version of the review published on the 4th of July, 2010 in iMAGES.


One Crazy, Grinning, Assassin, the Girl Friend and the Bomb

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

"Knight & Day" starts with one of the most confounded scenes of logicality a screenwriter can muster. It starts out like this: Tom Cruise, at his awkward, fake grinning best is Roy Miller, a government spy/assassin/rouge agent (take your pick) who meets cute with June Havens – Cameron Diaz, flashing her best cute-grin with an independent single lay-girl attitude – at the Wichita Airport. Cruise picks up a Knight toy – a Macguffin we’ll see later in the movie, bumps into Diaz twice (once openly deliberate, the other, maybe naturally), exchanges a glance and three sentences that only leads of a romantic-comedy movies do, and then by some twisted government tactic (their bump is seen through an airport surveillance camera), they end up on a lonesome passenger flight to Boston.

Until now, everything is good. We notice Roy checking out the passengers – are they covert agents we wonder? (Of course they are, we’ve seen the trailer), regardless, we see him flirting, very Jerry Maguire-like, with June; of course there are sparks. Then, as she goes into the boxed-in airplane washroom to "compose" herself, the five or so passengers pounce on Roy. One by one. He takes them out, including the airhostess, the pilot and the co-pilot and then props them back on their seats. He then expertly crash lands the plane in an open field, drugs June, and as she struggles with consciousness, tells her to look out for government guys using the words "safe", "secure" and "contain" (I don’t need to tell you that these agents do indeed come, weaving these three words in a single utter-able sentence).

And thus begins "Knight & Day", a globe-trotting escapade with little plot and a whole lot of running, gun-playing, freeway car crashing (CGI), helicopter chasing (I wonder how easy it is to rig helicopters in Maya, the software profoundly used in animation) and bull stampeding (the bulls, by the way, are computer-fake too).

Now, the problem isn’t the opening scene, but the way it is introduced: Roy is obviously trained well (Viola Davis, the head of C.I.A, shepherding the operation to bring in Roy openly states this at the movie’s end). So why plant him in a lonesome plane with five or so covert operatives and purposely place June with them? Wouldn’t it have been better to detain and question June and quietly sedate Roy, when they were still under surveillance? But I guess that wouldn’t have sold well to the marketing guys at 20th Century Fox and Regency, the two presenters of the movie.

However, their bet on Mr. Cruise and Ms. Diaz works well. Although there is little actual romance in the movie, the leads pull off their characters, lock, stock and barrel, background stories included. The script requested they have natural, instinctive, magnetism. And lo and behold, it’s there.

The plot is about a finger-sized, unstable, energy source invented by Simon Feck, Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood), who is kept underground by Roy somewhere. Roy has to get the device to Simon, escape from bad bomb-making terrorist (no, they’re NOT Muslim terrorists) and their inside man Peter Sarsgaard (typecast into evilness). He also has to keep June safe, avoid getting caught, questioned, blacked out and killed in the remaining hour-and-a-half. He partially succeeds in all of them.

While this may sound like a Michael Bay movie, or a rendering of the recent "Get Smart" reboot, it isn’t. Director James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) aims for a very 70’s James Bond like feel. He piles on the action and by design keeps everything, including the uncertainty angle by the end of the second act, trouble–free. He and fellow screenwriter Patrick O’Neill would have made a better movie if they added more of the Carey Grant-like feel to the movie. A bit of old-Hollywood and a dose of Hitchcock-like mystery might have worked wonders (although it might have been toned down since the script got into production).

Mr. Cruise shapes Roy like his recent media fixation: A grinning, overtly enthusiastic, crack pot; and he walks the line with pro experience and the cat-like agility he shows in most of his physical stunts (especially when Junes starts firing all over the place with an out-of-control Uzi). Ms. Diaz isn’t a ditzy blonde either (well, unless one counts the scene where she is drugged with a truth serum). Her June is intelligent, resourceful, a little adventurous, and maybe deep within her is a bored adrenaline junkie. These two make one good looking, if a little nutty, couple.

"Knight & Day" is rated PG-13. It runs on bloodless action (cruise gets shot, twice, yet there is little blood), spunked-up comedy here and there and way too many explosions.

Second Opinion

By Farheen Jawaid

Knight_Day_sheetAt last a summer flick has come out with people who are both A-listers and stars in the whole sense of the word. The Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise starrer “Knight and Day” is not deep or coherent (nor it should be being a romantic/action/comedy), but the commitment to silliness and charm oozing from the big screen echoes of old Hollywood chemistry which more than enough cover up the follies and ridiculous in its fast paced snappy stride.

The plot is so purposeless that is not even much discussed in the movie. But what is purposeful in “Knight and Day” is the constant commit of two actors trying to make everything, anything work. Whatever’s thrown at them, be it line or scene, even bad plotting. But the chemistry and charisma of the leads makes up for all the misses and then make them look unmissed.

In the movie Tom Cruise grins broader with determination, while Cameron Diaz grins with more enamor than I’ve seen her recently. However the highlight is not their winning grins, but the light banter and genuine chemistry between the two stars who take “Knight and Day” from inconsequential to consequential the second they walk in, which is the very opening second, where we see the back of Tom Cruise’s head. Maybe that’s why there were barely any scenes without one or both of the leads in it, whatever the case Knight and Day is more than I thought it would be or hoped. And it sure is better romantic/ action/comedy in recent years, like “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” or “The Killers”.

The published version can be found at:



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