The latest action/comedy offering from the bowels of Hollywood, Knight & Day is a dismal reminder of Tom Cruise’s questionable comic talents and Cameron Diaz’s desperate lack of screen presence. Neither actor is able to salvage a below average concept from the competent, if not wholly predictable, direction of James Mangold (Walk The Line) who tries but ultimately fails to emulate the frivolity and suspense of Hitchcock. What Mangold didn’t take into account is that the latter worked with impeccable scripts and iconic actors, two advantages beyond the reach of Knight & Day.
Roy Miller (Cruise) is a government agent gone AWOL who, following a random encounter with June (Diaz), sees his mission thrown wildly off course as he battles with superiors hot on his trail for reasons initially withheld. What ensues is a baffling mix of implausible character motivation, derivative set pieces, horribly executed humour and an ethically questionable plot device which involves Roy repeatedly administering a drug to June (awkwardly occupying a position between hostage and love interest) that renders her unconscious. For all its attempts at high octane car chases, tussles on trains and mid-air gun battles the results are surprisingly bland and hampered by a severely lacklustre script.
Knight & Day’s mediocrity is further exacerbated by a series of shameless product placements (iPhones feature prominently) and insipid genre references: Roy’s uninspired repartee of ‘witty sign-offs’ are customarily deployed in the immediate moments preceding a bang or explosion in an attempt to indulge a collective latent nostalgia for the lowest common denominator of ‘80s action fare. If you thought Die Hard 4.0 felt stale, Knight & Day is positively toxic, achieving little else other than to bore the audience into submission.
Even when compared with Cruise and Diaz’s least inspiring efforts, Knight & Day is by all means beneath them. The screenplay is of the hackneyed variety normally reserved for up-and-coming actors in search of a vehicle with which to launch their careers, not two Hollywood A-listers. With such an aimless, meandering narrative to contend with and such poor dialogue to deliver, Cruise and Diaz should be commended for at least honouring their contracts and turning up.