Knight and Day

I finally caught up with “Knight and a Day” and I am afraid the joke was on me. For all of its action showcasing car chases, shootings, knifings, explosions, almost non-stop from start to finish, “Knight and Day,” which stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, is by far the most boring movie I have seen so far this summer. I think that the film’s unimaginative, painfully obvious pun of a title should have been a tip off. The only thing that kept me from walking out on “Knight and Day” was my obligation to this column. Much like the film’s legion of bad guys, dispatched ad infinitum by Mr. Cruise, I took a bullet for my readers.

“Knight and Day” is a comedy/thriller wherein Cruise plays a character named Roy Miller, which is the same name of the character played by Matt Damon in the movie “Green Zone.” Is there some limited pool of legally approved movie character’s names into which studio scripts must dip?

Miller, a rogue agent of some sort, involves innocent Julie Havens (Diaz) in a series of James Bond like high risk situations in which their lives are continuously put in danger, or are they? A major problem with “Knight and Day” is that I never felt that the characters, severely under developed by the way, were ever in any real danger. I mean if groups of machine gun armed men and knife wielding bad guys, not to mention bomb-dropping airplanes, cannot kill our hero and heroine then it is a safe bet that they will make it to the closing credits. As a result I stopped worrying about them early on and, as a further result, the movie ran out of steam for me. Why do movie bad guys always have such lousy aim anyway?

All fiction filmmaking is contrived in that we know it is a movie with actors pretending. A good film though will have an interesting story or compelling characters that cause us to suspend our disbelief. “Knight and Day” had nothing convincing at stake. While the film does have a “MacGuffin” (a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock for an item which motivates the story but is in and of itself unimportant) the story had nothing emotionally involving and there was zero suspense.

The screenplay only moved in service to a “paint by numbers” scenario, which left it holding all the cards to deal at will. In other words the story did whatever it wanted with little rhyme, reason or logic. For example the writers employed a clunky, uninspired, lazy device to get from one section of the story to another. Cruise would cause Diaz to pass out and then she would awaken later in a different location. The audience, unfortunately, was given no such option.

Knight and Day, Director James Mangold, 2010,
20th Century Fox, 109 minutes, rated PG-13

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on July 13, 2010, in New. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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