“Knight and Day” (2010)

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★★★★☆

Let me start this review by saying I’m not a Tom Cruise fan. Too many of his films are all pretty much the same thing, and he’s just a little too happy and a little too much of a drama queen for my taste. So I went into “Knight and Day” not expecting much. Most reviews were tepid at best.

Well, Cruise’s trademark toothy grin works in this film, and works quite well. It’s another “Oh, I’m dating a super spy” kind of movie … the kind of thing Jackie Chan made a staple of for so many years. The storyline is pretty good … stolen top-secret technology, a “rogue” agent somewhere in the mix, international bad guys … the usual.

What makes this movie work is Cruise’s charm and cool under fire, and Diaz’s ability to roll with the plot and not come off as a ditz or as too butch. She strikes the perfect character of a hot chick from Boston who likes to fix vintage muscle cars. Except … she doesn’t have a Boston accent. Not even close. In fact, throughout all the scenes that take place in Boston, I don’t think I heard anything close to a Boston accent from anyone.

Anyway, Cruise is so matter-of-fact about his business that you have to laugh at the way he deals with Diaz in explaining what she should do and what he’s about to do (“… you wait here while I go have a talk with the guys. By that I mean I’m going to go over and shoot them.”). His stunt work and skill at handling weapons is top notch and he looks comfortable doing it – like he’s been doing it for years. Unlike many spy flicks where the hero does a lot of “styling” with how he uses his guns and knives, Cruise is all business. He comes off as a professional – quirky – but a professional. Kind of like Jason Bourne meets … well … Tom Cruise.

There are some interesting touches to this movie that I really liked. The chase scene through the “running of the bulls” in Spain was a nice twist. You’re used to seeing bad guy’s cars hit by trains – not by stampeding bulls. There’s a gender-reversed homage to the Bond flick “Dr. No” about half way in when Cruise and Diaz are on his island.

The ending of the movie is really good. Not because it’s some wild chase scene, but because it isn’t. I won’t give it away, but it made me leave the theatre smiling.

“Knight and Day” is listed as  comedy-action movie, but don’t expect belly-laughs. This isn’t that kind of movie.  The humor is kind of subtle in that it’s not jokes or sight-gags, but the irony of the situations and the way they’re dealt with. There aren’t many “oh come on” moments where something happens that’s so completely preposterous that it makes it hard to keep following along. Some of the action is, of course, exaggerated and the timing of various this goes well beyond the work “lucky” … but it’s all within the realm of the possible.

This is a good movie to see. It’s charming and well paced and fun to watch. I can almost forgive Tom Cruise for “War of the Worlds” after watching this movie. Almost.