Knight and Day (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Knight and Day</strong> (2010)

(In theatres, June 2010) A breezy summer action comedy doesn’t have to do much to charm me, but the mess that is Knight and Day tests the limits of my indulgence when it comes to those kinds of would-be summer blockbusters.  It’s not that the film isn’t enjoyable: It’s good-natured, leaves its stars free to grin madly and does present an enjoyable escapist fantasy.  There are interesting things to see in the action sequences, and a few laughs here and there.  But something feels off about the way the film is directed and edited: Director James Mangold has an intriguing way of showing (or rather, not showing) what happens in the film, but this kind of experimentation doesn’t fit with the far more conventional thrust of the movie and is hampered by some fairly obvious CGI work.  Furthermore, the editing is so choppy that it feels as if crucial connective tissue has been left out of the script or the final cut: Knight and Day feels rushed and borderline incoherent, in-between zippy changes of scenery, abrupt shifts in tone and characters whose unhinged nature seems more forced by dialogue rewrites than anything like psychological complexity.  (Even the title almost defies explanation, and you have to squint really hard at the last lines of dialogue to figure it out.)  So far removed from the moviemaking process, it’s tough for viewers to know where to assign blame: the script was reportedly re-written almost a dozen times, passing through a number of proposed stars before settling on Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.  Neither do too badly, although Cruise overdoes his preening while Diaz seems happy to squeal dizzily through much of the film.  The result is about a third good, a third charming and a third mystifying: not exactly the ideal mixture for a formula movie that should have been an easy slam-dunk.

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