Knight And Day (12A)

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
1.00

Cruise control is on the blink

Unhappily matched fugitives who crack wise while dodging mortal danger has been a cinematic staple at least since
The 39 Steps in 1935, and it perhaps had its finest hour when Cary Grant led Audrey Hepburn a merry and mischievous dance through Stanley Donen's
Charade (1963). Film-makers have been trying to replicate this type of caper-comedy-romance for years, and flubbing it. This year we've already had Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl mugging through the awful Killers, and now, handling a much larger budget, James Mangold tries his luck with
Knight and Day. How I wish I could continue without a sigh.

Mangold has had an intermittently interesting career, starting with his debut feature, Heavy, and encompassing a decent police thriller ( CopLand) and a creditable remake of a Western ( 3:10 to Yuma). So he knows how to do drama. The comedy and the romance, however, are much trickier propositions, and he's hindered rather than helped by the return of Tom Cruise to action-hero mode for the first time since Mission: Impossible 3 in 2006. Cruise plays Roy Miller, a rogue CIA agent who meets-cute with June Havens (Cameron Diaz) on a flight out of Wichita airport. She's on her way home for her sister's wedding, little suspecting the trouble ahead. Having single-handedly killed a bunch of enemies plus the two pilots, Roy crashlands the plane in the middle of a cornfield and then takes ditzy June hostage as they go on the run.

It transpires that Roy has hold of a battery gizmo, which, despite its miniature size, can power a whole city without recharging. (Hasn't Apple already invented one of these?) It's the invention of a pale-faced geek played by Paul Dano, who has been a shadow of his former self since There Will Be Blood. The "bad guys" who want it are led by a Spanish arms dealer (Jordi Mollà), while the "worse guys" are goons led by a CIA bad apple, played with almost a yawn in his voice by Peter Sarsgaard.

When Robert Donat handcuffed Madeleine Carroll to him to make sure she didn't stray from his side in The 39 Steps, it was perverse and kinky – a Hitchcockian play on the erotic thrill of dominance. It's a sign of the times that Roy binds his reluctant partner to him by knocking her out cold with drugs at various stages in the story. This allows the film to switch arbitrarily from one location to another – a South Pacific island, a trans-Alpine express, a stopover in Salzburg – without ever convincing us there's a reason for any of them. Late in the film, the couple are being chased down a street in Seville, when from the opposite direction comes a stampede of bulls. At this point I expected at least a good gag about bulls (Will they pursue Roy and June through a china shop?) but no, it's just there as a dose of tourist exotica to divert the popcorn-munchers. Heaven forbid they were actually given something to think about...



Video: Knight and Day premiere

Patrick O'Neill's script can't keep up with the plot's switchback moves. He simply hasn't the wit for lines that, say, a Cary Grant might use to cajole a woman (and an audience) into sticking with him for the ride. And even if he had the lines, would we believe them coming out of Tom Cruise's mouth? Cruise seems to think that just flashing his megawatt smile will make a woman melt, but it looks more like smarm than charm, and the fact that he feels it necessary to drug the lady suggests a profound distrust of the female sex.

His character is meant to be a loose cannon – you know, like, "craaay-zee" – but all you get from Cruise is a strutting, self-absorbed projection of control. Perhaps he should have jumped up and down on a sofa or something, because Roy doesn't cut it either as a wild card or man of mystery. Diaz is sweetly game, and matches Cruise for toothiness; she also knows the score after going through a kidnap comedy years ago in A Life Less Ordinary. Hers is a shoddily written part, all the same: she's supposed to be a great mechanic, yet as soon as she gets a machine- gun in her hands she sprays bullets around in a shrieking, girly style that says, "D'oh – women!"

And what about that title? "Knight" turns out to be the surname of Roy's parents – who think he's dead, by the way, but let's not get into that. So how about "Day"? Could that be June's surname, thus making them an "aptly named" pair? No, because she's June Havens, as we already know. I puzzled over this for a while, thinking I'd missed something, but in the end it comes down to feebleness of imagination. "Day" is there only because the film-makers couldn't think of anything else that went with "Knight". A good one might have been "Knight's Move", as in chess, which would indicate the hero's ability to escape from closed positions. Or "Knight Flight", given how often he uses airlines. But no, it's Knight and Day.

Maybe it doesn't deserve a better title. Though aimed at an older demographic, and a notionally higher IQ, it is in the same galumphing manner as last week's The A-Team, a loud, frenetic and poorly written action movie that could have tried harder to entertain us, or at least tried not to insult our intelligence so flagrantly. At the moment, even that modest ambition looks like the Hollywood blockbuster's mission impossible.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?