Wasted Days and Wasted Knights

Knight and Day tries hard.  In a lot of ways, it’s a chick flick masquerading as an action movie.  The kind of movie a guy could take his date to and not feel completely duped into a romance.  But that’s all there is to this movie.  It’s as breezy and forgettable as a tepid popcorn movie, you enjoy for the briefest diversion that it is then *poof* all is a quickly faded memory.  To use the word effervescent would ascribe to it a sophistication it wants but doesn’t quite attain.

Director James Mangold (Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma) and scribe Patrick O’Neill go for snappy banter and when their efforts can’t quite pull it off, they throw in a few hundred bullets and an explosion or two to distract the audience.  This only adds to the schizophrenic feel of the movie:  one moment it attempts to be a screwball, the next it has the kind of graphic action of a Bond or Bourne movie.

Obviously this movies was sold on the star power of Tom Cruise (in a nod to his Mission Impossible turns) in full boyish charm mode and Cameron Diaz (last paired with Cruise in Vanilla Sky) in full ditzy blond mode.  And the movie dotes on them despite there being next to no chemistry between them.  They play essentially card board cut outs; we’re never not aware that it’s Cruise and Diaz on screen.  Cruise’s character is a boy scout (technically, he was an Eagle Scout) who takes care of everyone who has a bit of a psychotic charmer edge to him (and, frankly, manic-styled crazy seems to suit him).  His character is every bit the super hero action star reminiscent of 80s/90s action films from Speed to True Lies.  You know the kind:  thousands of bullets flying, the good guys are never hit and never miss.

There’s a “classic” spy movie set up involving a perpetual energy source macguffin, betrayals, frame up job, need to clear name and restore honor.  Also, Cameron Diaz really wants a man.  Her role for the first half of the movie is to over-the-top react to everything going on around her, though she does seem to have her own super power of being able to dodge bullets without any sort of Matrix-style effort.

“Who are you?  Really?” –Diaz

The life of a double agents is a mercurial one. By necessity they have to lead secret lives and while at first or on the surface it may seem exciting, it takes its toll. Living with the desire to tell their friends and family, be honest and real with them, about who they are.  Spies lie for a living, getting the empathy and compassion trained out of them.  They live in a world of shadows, lies, and misinformation, having to let go of who they were, and give up the happily ever afters for the sake of the mission.  In the same way we can compartmentalize our spirituality as well as our lives. Our duplicitous lives lead to a sort of spiritual dissociation. This is the way of how (secret) sins work, how they infiltrate our lives and we manage to continue to function.  But again, to explore that theme with any depth wasn’t a function of the movie.

“I don’t know exactly what to believe.” –Diaz

Ironically, this movie sends out an oddly paternalistic and chauvinistic message.  This is a fairy tale dressed up with espionage and intrigue that boils down to a princess who constantly needs saving.  The knight protects and empowers her and she feels strong only when he’s around.  Coincidentally, she only seems to be able to handle her business to get her man.  Literally.

Knight and Day is predictable but not without its charms, but ultimately there is nothing to the movie.  It is a thrill ride to be enjoyed in the moment.