It’s the spirit of North By Northwest, Charade and a dozen other sexy’n’spry spy romps that the makers of Knight And Day so obviously want to recreate here, with added Michael Bay action.
It’s an ambitious formula to emulate – and it struggles, straining for the wit, romance and glamour such a film sorely needs.
In the hands of, say, Steven Soderbergh – who nailed that slinky, knowing ’60s sass with his Ocean’s... series – this might have worked.
But instead of confidence and swagger, Knight And Day instead shows signs of indecision, trying to be all things to all audiences: rom-com, thriller, summer blockbuster.
Tom cruise has little to do other than parody his Mission: Impossible Ethan Hunt persona, as fugitive super-spy Roy Miller (real name: Matthew Knight, in case you were wondering about the bad-pun title), on the run from the Feds, while Cameron Diaz is alternately clever/stupid and sassy/ditzy as caught-in-the-crossfire car restorer June Havens, depending on the whims of the endlessly rewritten script. (Twelve different scribes were involved but only poor Patrick O’Neill is credited/blamed, due to Writers’ Guild rules.)
So, as the film lurches uncomfortably from Hitchcock plotting to buddy-caper banter, Diaz has to flip between being Eva Marie Saint and Goldie Hawn, irritating and lovable, in the space of seconds.
But, joint billing aside, it’s clearly a vanity project for Cruise – all pearly grins, sixpack flashes and cocksure quips – so it’s no great mystery why audiences steered clear on release; it made $76.4 million in the US but cost $117 million.
It’s breathlessly directed by Walk The Line’s James Mangold, who leaves little time for viewers to wallow in the luxury of the many locations. So, while it matches the global scope of a bond movie, zipping from the Azores to Austria to Spain, it’s so joylessly constructed that nothing really works.
Acting together for the first (and surely now last) time since Vanilla Sky, Cruise and Diaz do occasionally summon up a semblance of chemistry, but it’s soon smothered by the whizzes and bangs.
Extras were unavailable at press time (but don’t sound substantial) and the Extended Cut doesn’t magically fix the film with its added eight minutes.
In fairness, the transfer is sharp enough to be worth a spin to road-test the capabilities of your HD set-up but otherwise we’d recommend waiting for brad bird’s M:I:4 instead.