PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

'Knight and Day' Is All About Cameron Diaz

Marisa Carroll

If Knight and Day is about anything -- and that will be up for debate -- it might just be the crystal-clear blueness of Cameron Diaz’s eyes.


Knight and Day

Director: James Mangold
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Jordi Mollà, Paul Dano
Rated: PG-13
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Year: 2010
US date: 2010-06-23 (General release)
UK date: 2010-07-02 (General release)
Website
Trailer

If Knight and Day is about anything -- and that will be up for debate -- it might just be the crystal-clear blueness of Cameron Diaz’s eyes. The camera often lingers on close-ups of her face, giving the audience ample time to study her voluptuous cheekbones, cheerfully upturned lips, and the cornflower clarity of those exquisite peepers. After a while, the effect is nearly mesmerizing. It’s as if her eyes were telling the viewer, “You will find this movie entertaining, very entertaining…” If the strategy doesn’t entirely work, it seems fitting for a movie whose heroine finds her consciousness commandeered (via mysterious potions, etc.) more than once.

Diaz plays vintage-car restorer June Havens, who was apparently named after an over-55 retirement community. On a business trip from Wichita to Boston, she bumps into superspy Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), rumored to have gone rogue. In his possession is a mysterious weapon that he is attempting to keep out of the hands of fellow agents Fitzgerald (the dependably creepy Peter Sarsgaard) and George (Viola Davis), as well as a ruthless Spanish weapons dealer (an underused and cartoonish Jordi Mollà). But once June gets entangled in Roy’s aborted escape plan, he devotes as much energy to protecting her as he does to saving the free world.

At first, June is terrified by her relentless pursuer, and with good reason. Thanks to Roy, she barely survives a plane crash, a hectic car chase through Boston, and multiple shootouts. But anyone who’s ever seen a Hollywood movie knows that a handsome secret agent has a way of easing a girl’s defenses. A former Eagle Scout, Roy is unfailingly polite, leaving June helpful Post-it Notes and always addressing her by her first name. Even after they find themselves in a seemingly inescapable situation, he can’t help being reassuring. “Don’t worry, June. I know this looks bad, but I got this.”

Knight and Day gives Cruise a chance to mock his own action-hero persona as well as his roles in films like Mission Impossible and even Collateral. Of course, he still gets to carry out stunts (though some are degraded by murky film quality and clumsy green-screening), including his signature move -- the one where he runs really fast toward the camera while escaping a fireball or some such thing. For his fans, it’s a win-win. And though he and Diaz have little sexual spark, they do play off each other at times in an appealingly screwball fashion.

But their genial rapport is complicated by a terrible conceit, which involves Roy drugging June whenever the two find themselves in those seemingly inescapable situations. (He argues it’s easier for him to protect her when she's unconscious.) In these moments, the audience’s point of view is aligned with June’s, and because she is drifting in and out of awareness, the viewers never see just how Roy manages to escape with her in tow. While this conceit is played for laughs, it also seems like a cheat on a part of the filmmakers. Couldn’t director James Mangold and screenwriter Patrick O’Neill be bothered to imagine their characters out of the scenarios they throw them into?

Another problem is the way Mangold and O’Neill attempt to deflect the ethical implications of Roy’s methods. June is granted a speech where she is voices her outrage over being knocked out according to Roy’s whims, but it's quickly followed by another in which a decision she makes compromises her and Roy’s safety. A tacked-on epilogue, seemingly informed by the Pretty Woman school of gender relations, addresses the issue a second time, and is again unconvincing.

Knight and Day’s biggest trouble, however, is the pacing of the action. As the film ricochets from location to location (Boston, Brooklyn, Salzburg, Seville, to name a few), there is never enough downtime for the audience to catch its breath, much less for any suspense to develop. It’s a surprising misstep for Mangold, who recently staged the taut and frequently breathtaking remake of 3:10 to Yuma. In that film, he managed to highlight his stars' charisma while telling a suspenseful yarn. Here he gets only half the job done, and though Diaz’s eyes sure are pretty, they can’t make up for what’s missing: a thrillingly engaging plot.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.