Knight and Day (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Knight and Day (2010)

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ANDREW LIKEIn the genre of international assassin comedy romances, Knight and Day is its champion.  It's a bit refreshing because it's partial proof that no matter how horrible a specific genre can be, there's always the opportunity to make a good film.  A bit of self-awareness and (finally) a good sense of humor go a long way to relieving the pain of The Bounty Hunter and Killers.

First tip, do not go into Knight and Day expecting anything but pure silliness.  Everything is ramped up to Looney Toons levels of plastic absurdity and not a single element of the film is spared this approach.  There are unkillable German assassins, Russian femme fatales, suave American agents and wide eyed blondes.  All of these characters are bouncing around the world whenever needed to by the plot, and are accompanied by a bombastic score that never dips below absurd.  Still with me?  Good - moving on.

Knight and Day is all pose, no muscle, and a good bit of fun.

Knight and Day stars Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise as the wide eyed blonde and the special agent.  It would have been a nice bit of casting to reverse the two, but they're very good in roles that play with their usual screen personas.  Cruise's character, Roy Miller, seems to have been modeled after some of Cruise's real world shenanigans.  There's a bit of doubt whether he's the good guy or the bad guy, and spends most of the film in a mostly unhinged state lying through each scene.  Diaz, as June Havens, responds reasonably but still enjoys the thrill of being in danger.

The plot involves a perpetual energy device called the Zephyr, which is in Roy's hands and the FBI is trying to get back.  June catches his eye while he's on the run, and she gets sucked into his insane globe trotting.  All the while, Roy and June are being tracked by Special Agent Fitzgerald (Peter Saarsgard), who may or may not be the real bad guy (casting Saarsgard was as subtle a decision as everything else).  Then there's a nice bit of fun to be had with Paul Dano as the inventor of the Zephyr, and a large number of silly action sequences.

Ping pong is the rule of the action scenes.  Enemies have their arms broken, get shot then turn 180 degrees to shoot their friends, and in one particularly amusing moment, dangle from the end of a train using a long chain of sausage.  Wipes transport the heroes hundreds of miles away from scene to scene, and the villains, clad in the deepest blacks, chase the two of them with zero subtlety.  It's fun, it's energetic, and it's completely disposable in a good way.

Remember, "bad" effects aren't the same thing as "appropriate" effects. Everything in Knight and Day is very "appropriate".

There has been a lot of criticism over the way director James Mangold uses CGI in the film.  It's not quite up to Avatar levels, and seems to be struggling to hit cut scenes from Playstation 1-era full motion video games.  I have to conclude that this is intentional, and actually works to the films benefit.  Mangold keeps the film pitched at such a manic cartoon pace that the effects occupy a sphere that is more like Kung Fu Hustle and less like Inception.

Really, there's not much else to Knight and Day.  It's a breezy hour and a half, makes use of about a dozen beautiful locales and has a cast that is clearly having a lot of fun with something they all know isn't going to win any awards.  I'm not looking forward to the next assassin squad star crossed yadda yadda film.  But it's nice to know that ridiculous genre produced something that is fun to watch.

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Knight and Day (2010)

Directed by James Mangold.
Written by Patrick O'Neill.
Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Saarsgard and Paul Dano.

Posted by Andrew

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