Smiles of a Summer Knight 

Cruise and Diaz shine.


I can't think of a good reason why a man or woman wouldn't like Knight and Day. Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, the film is a sexy, adult, breezy action comedy. It's the kind of film we haven't seen enough of lately: a high-concept plot driven by movie stars throwing their charisma around on the silver screen. Knight and Day is a burst of sunshine peeking through the clouds of violent, grisly, unseemly action films raining their dour wet on the multiplexed masses.

As the movie kicks off, June Havens (Diaz), a Bostonian who restores old cars, is your average citizen in the airport returning home from a business trip. Roy Miller (Cruise) is an American intelligence agent who bumps into Havens on the concourse — a seemingly random event that puts the two together, for better or worse, for a series of increasingly boffo adventures. Havens evolves from clueless and not in on the superspy joke to terrified innocent to willing participant.

Diaz is perfect. Okay, near perfect: Her wicked Boston accent waxes and wanes and would've been better off never begun. But she's easy to root for and likable in all situations. Cruise picks up a lesson from George Clooney: Sometimes people want to see the actor be sexy and cool and have fun. Cruise's persona in Knight and Day is one we haven't seen since Jerry Maguire (even his Ethan Hunt turns in the Mission: Impossible movies are a little on the brooding, super-serious side).

In Knight and Day, the stars get to behave like there are no consequences for them, because there aren't. Reuniting Cruise and Diaz (Vanilla Sky) was a stroke of casting genius and makes the film. They boast the most famous, impressive smiles of our era, and it's good to see them flashing in tandem, a dose of unreality suited for the summertime.

As the narrative advances, the film appreciates in exotic-locale value: From Wichita, it travels to Boston, Brooklyn, the Azores, Austria, and Spain. The proficient, professional work of filmmaker James Mangold is on full display here. (Full disclosure: Mangold was my director when I appeared as Out-of-Focus Prisoner #87 in Walk the Line.)

Knight and Day has a jaunty score and a funny running gag: The most gonzo action set pieces are never shown, because the Diaz character doesn't see them happen. It's more high-concept rare for our CGI age. Why go crazy with the computer when you can make lower-budget jokes that keep the emphasis on the real star power?

Knight and Day brings to mind — and I mean this in a good way — entertaining, sexy action comedy '80s TV shows such as Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Hart to Hart, and Remington Steele. Perhaps that's why it feels like an excellent, well-produced, feature-length pilot for a new TV show with tons of promise. Plop the likes of Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly into the title roles and I'd DVR every week.

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Knight and Day
Rated PG-13 · 110 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Patrick O'Neill
Producer: Todd Garner, Cathy Konrad, Steve Pink and Joe Roth
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Maggie Grace, Peter Sarsgaard, Marc Blucas, Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Olivier Martinez, Stream and Nicole Signore


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