Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cruise and Diaz make for a fun summer "Day" at the movies

Knight and Day (2010) 
110 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: B

"Action-Romantic Comedies" have become something of a hot commodity in recent years. Jenny Aniston and Gerard Butler took out the trash in "The Bounty Hunter," Katie Heigl and Ashton Kutcher had some mild gunplay in "Killers," and Tina Fey and Steve Carell's "Date Night" was the winner. But now it's the turns of old-school movie stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz to engage in risky business, reteaming after 2001's "Vanilla Sky," in the eye-candy entertainment "Knight and Day." 

Cruise has us at hello, looking as if he drank from the Fountain of Youth and playing with nutty, manic energy in the form of CIA agent Roy Miller who's gone rogue and he may just be a nut. At the Wichita, Kansas airport, he has a calculated run-in with regular gal June (Diaz), who works a regular job, ya know, restoring classic hot rods. He uses her (and her luggage) to smuggle a powerful top-secret battery through airport security. There's plot involving Roy's chase from the feds and an arms dealer, and protecting the battery's maker (Paul Dano's young scientist), which is just full of plot holes, so forget about it or you'll miss the point of taking the ride. 

High-profile director James Mangold and first-time film writer Patrick O'Neill brand a good team to make "Knight and Day" more than just an action blockbuster, with some fresh comedy added to the "Die Hard"-esque car chases and explosions: June is drugged for some of the shoot-ups so being in her point-of-view we get some trippy visual surprises. Sure, it couldn't be more ludicrous even had Ludacris co-starred, the globetrobbing action is playfully exciting and well-executed, especially a chase through the bull-running streets of Spain (minus some obvious green-screen work) and a shootout aboard a jetliner, and the movie moves fast like a runaway train. 

Cruise and Diaz aren't a shabby team either; in fact, Cruise still has all the right moves and charisma, and Diaz is no ninny or damsel in distress, working her mega-watt-smile charm and comic skills. They have wonderfully funny and sexy chemistry together, and aren't too bad on the eyes either. It's summer, so there's nothing wrong with enjoying light, breezy, engaging fun on the scale of a Michael Bay picture like "Knight and Day" in an air-conditioned theater with a bucket of buttery popcorn. 

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