No, we never find out what the "Day" refers to ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Monday, July 5, 2010

No, we never find out what the "Day" refers to

Knight and Day
My rating:

There are films based on ideas so fresh, so innovative, so compelling, that they practically demand to be made. A director or screenwriter may have thought of it, mulled it over in his mind, found himself getting more and more excited about it until he's practically rushing to his PC, or even pen and paper, to get it down before another stray thought evicts it from his mind, never to return. And a good many years later, it may finally see the light of day as a theatrically-released motion picture that makes audiences go "OMG that was such a great movie, and it was based on so simple but so fantastic an idea, how could it have taken Hollywood this long to make it?" Knight and Day is not one of those films.

But for what it is, it's pretty damn good.

June Havens (Cameron Diaz) bumps into handsome stranger Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) at the airport, and when they end up sharing a plane, an attraction instantly develops. Then she steps out of the bathroom to find that Roy has killed every other passenger - including the pilots - and is maneuvering the plane into a controlled crash landing. It turns out that Roy is a rogue CIA agent on the run from his own people, and has in his possession a super-battery called the Zephyr that he claims his partner Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard) is planning to sell to arms dealer Antonio Quintana (Jordi MollĂ ). Thus begins June's whirlwind adventure at Roy's side as he takes her around the world, picking up Simon Feck (Paul Dano), the teenage inventor of the Zephyr along the way, as her feelings for Roy swing wildly between infatuation, fear, and mistrust.

Imagine some Big Shot Hollywood Producer came up to you and said, "Okay, we got Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz available to make a movie together, and you gotta write the script. It's gotta be a comedy 'cos Cameron's good at that, it's gotta be an action movie 'cos Tom's good at that, and it's gotta be a romance 'cos, duh, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Get to it." This movie is probably the best possible thing you could've come up with under such less-than-artistically-ideal conditions, which is a minor miracle considering the even worse conditions under which it was actually made. Of the odd dozen writers who worked on it, the lion's share of credit probably goes to writer-director James Mangold, a journeyman director who has always done perfectly competent work.

Here, he shows a remarkable talent for taking a dull and generic premise and fleshing it out with a dozen little grace notes that make it a surprisingly well-written film. June is an unexpectedly well-developed character, for one. She restores classic cars for a living, but this tomboyish profession isn't the be-all and end-all of her character; it gives her depth, it makes her believably tough and brave when necessary, but she can also be as ditzy as the needs of comedy demands. The dynamics of June's and Roy's relationship are also interesting. No matter how much she freaks out or does foolish and foolhardy things, he is never anything but respectful, reassuring, even empowering. You believe her when she says "he makes me feel strong." (Ladies: this is what you should expect from your man.) Even plotwise, it's more conscientious than you'd expect in making sure its typically far-fetched action-movie plot hangs together; there's a bit where a Beach Boys song is used just to take extra care in linking two plot points together.

Cruise and Diaz are two of the most charismatic movie stars of our time, and at first I wondered why they'd never done a movie together - until, of course, I remembered 2001's Vanilla Sky. But Diaz played Cruise's psycho ex-girlfriend in that one, so here's where we get a proper romance between the two. Diaz is delightful (and yes, I may be biased in that I am a heterosexual male, but what the hey). As mentioned, her character is developed well enough that she can vacillate between ditzy and smart and be believable at both - although it is when she is the former that the film gets most of its laughs. Cruise is of course an old hand at playing action hero, and his unflappably charming Roy is a neat variation of the ones he's done before, but he's not so successful at generating heat with his co-star; whatever chemistry the two have together is largely due to Diaz.

I actually considered giving this movie four stars. I can't think of anything it did wrong, other than perhaps it could've played up the laughs more; Mangold is great with action and thrills, not so much with comedy. And there's a late-stage chase scene in the midst of a bull run that features some very obvious CGI bulls and green-screen work. But ultimately, what keeps it from greatness - or at least the greatness that a four-star rating from TMBF bestows - is that it's just a very well-executed example of a very unremarkable story; I doubt I'll remember much about it in a couple months' time. Still, it's a more than worthwhile way to spend your RM10++ (depending on venue, cinema chain, day of the week, and a bunch of other factors that us moviegoers really ought to be privy to).

NEXT REVIEW: Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame
Expectations: my cinematic horizons broadened


profwacko said...

Watch it yesterday and i also wonder what is the significance of the movie title with the story itself. Knight ?? Other than Roy Miller's true family name but what else?? Day ?? Who is day ??

Anyway, i did enjoy the movie. Its just the title that bugs me.

k0k s3n w4i said...

a play of words on their contrasting personalities? that's the best i can come up with.

agree everything you said but i'd rate this film at 2.5/5 stars, to borrow ur scoring scheme. i like this film, but i recognise that it's more of a guilty pleasure kind of thing :) also, i really like tom cruise when he's a total whackjob.

besides, i do have a history of loving the heck out of bad films

My Review of D-War

there's that part where cameron diaz's character was drugged and every time she swims towards lucidicty, she finds herself and cruise in some random and ridiculously action-packed sequence - i love that whole bit. totally made the movie for me, haha.

it's nice to be in agreement for once :) and thanks for plugging my post in your toy story review!

fadz said...

hehe, its actually quite a lame movie for my standards, but its a sure firecracking vehicle for both Cameron and Cruise.

Night & Days has something to do with an "erotic" feel (yeap, that title seems like an erotic adult film of the 70s), which is what this movies is actually insinuating between the 2 stars. Yeap, its actually a "sex movie" without the sex, ala Hudson and Doris Day vehicle, or those 40-50s film of 2 chars caught in an adventure, and a love affair.

fadz said...

oh, btw TMBF, i cant seem to approve ur comment that u send, why eh? did u delete it? pls send it back

TMBF said...

@k0k s3n w4i: My pleasure for the plug, it was a new view of Toy Story 3 that I'd not read before. And BTW, by my ratings system, 2-½ stars would be too low. :)

@fadz: Oh dear, I'm not sure what happened to my comment. I wrote it in the heat of the moment - it was basically belasah-ing your friend Ridhwan for saying he "menyokong" filem tempatan by downloading it or watching it on YouTube. I'm not sure I can recapture that mood. :P