Thursday, 8 July 2010

Knight & Day

I don’t live anywhere near Hollywood, but yet I hate the way that the mythical city/concept seems to exist. The mob psychology is unnerving. The success of one Twilight means that emotional vampires are in, Shrek’s success means three more parts on the way and so on. In the same way, the perceived poor performance of Knight & Day means that Tom Cruise is a poor actor and his star has gone out. There’s an irony – once a film allows itself to have a huge budget it must make that budget back (triple) or it’s a failure. I suppose the message there is: don’t have big budgets. But I digress. I was excited to see Knight & Day. Cameron Diaz still amuses me as a more than competent comedic leading lady and I’ve let go of my irrational hatred of Cruise. It’s not his fault that Oprah likes him so much.
Knight & Day is a curious film – it’s a comedy, but it’s also an action film and there’s a definite bit of romance in there. It’s an interesting genre (subgenre?) and one I can’t say I’ve noticed – positively, at least – before. But it works. After viewing the first thing that struck me was that Knight & Day was like a more aggressive (and at times less smart) version of Duplicity. Note: I really liked Duplicity (another "flop"). Knight & Day doesn’t have an impressive script going for it, it doesn’t have the charming Julia Roberts but what it DOES have is a pair of leads willing to entertain us backed by a band of well played supporting players. I cannot overstress how much Knight & Day depends on the Cruise/Diaz dynamic. The script is fine, but uninspired and the two make a brilliantly funny, but realistic pairing. Every moment between the two is golden, and you never get the feeling they’re “sinking down” to the level of the movie. They’re having fun – and sometimes, that’s just refreshing. It’s strange, seeing this I considered whether Cameron Diaz ever considered doing a Shakespearean comedy. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of her contemporaries show that ability to make the strangest of soliloquies sound so remarkably…normal.
Knight & Day has its issues, and they’re obvious. For the first ten minutes the film has trouble finding itself, and the last five minutes are only good (though Diaz in particular sells it) but the middle is a blast. Viola Davis and Paul Dano stand out as two supporting players that bring their A game. Davis just has a natural cadence to her that I realise stealing scenes just may be her habit. Sarsgaard plays Sarsgaard, but I like Sarsgaard so I’m fine with that. Mangold is a far way from Walk the Line, but despite the annoying amount of CGI (enough with the CGI) he knows when to step back and make his actors the centrepiece. I think I’ve been subconsciously waiting for something to calm me this summer at the movies. And though Knight & Day isn’t ostensibly calming it just might be the most fun to be had in 2010 release I’ve seen yet. That’s no mean feat.


Mike Lippert said...

Great review. I agree totally. I very much looked forward to this movie and it was everything I expected: a fun action movie. As I said in my review, this one did right everything that the A-Team failed to. I hate seeing when people slander a movie just because of the habits of their stars. So what, Tom Cruise jumped on a couch and believes in aliens, who cares? As long as he is making good movies he can do or act however he pleases. Mel Gibson can hate the jews, blacks, Mexicans, me, for all I care, just make good movies. When did film criticism become about weighing the value of a work against the tabloid exploits of those involved?

One thing I will disagree respectfully on is Paul Dano. You may be right about him bringing his A game, but really, I usually don't find his A game worth that much. The stupid facial hair didn't help.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

glad i'm not alone with this one. it's a shame it's not getting loved. and i really like dano (my favourite thing in little miss sunshine - a move i loved).

Walter L. Hollmann said...

What a great movie! Turned me around on Cameron Diaz, and except for some iffy cinematography and, as you say, CGI effects, nothing took me out of its universe. Oh, what fun!