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Knight and Day / *** (PG-13)

Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2010, at 4:41 PM

(Photo)
Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise are all bullets and smiles in "Knight and Day".
20th Century Fox presents a film directed by James Mangold. Written by Patrick O'Neill. Running time: 110 min. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of action violence throughout, and brief strong language).

I hear a lot of people calling Tom Cruise crazy. Maybe he is. I don't know. What I do know is that he's an extremely appealing actor. He can take a small cameo role of a despicable character and turn it into a sensation big enough to spawn its own spin-off movie, as he's done with his studio executive character Les Grossman from to 2008 Hollywood spoof "Tropic Thunder". He also has one of the most winning smiles in the business. I know, that's part of what creeps some people out about him.

Another one of the most winning smiles in Hollywood belongs to Cameron Diaz. Director James Mangold ("Walk the Line", "3:10 to Yuma") has had the brilliant idea of putting those two smiles together in an appealing summer blockbuster action comedy called "Knight and Day". If you've seen the trailers, you know how the story plays off the crazy angle on Tom Cruise, and he embraces that potential craziness, possibly a little more than the script does.

The plot follows June Havens (Diaz, "Charlie's Angels"), a grown tomboy on her way to her sister's wedding when she bumps into Cruise's Roy Miller in the airport. It is obvious to the audience Miller is up to something, and it probably should be obvious to June when Roy bumps into her again after they get through security. It seems, however, their ways will part when June is denied boarding. But when an FBI agent named Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard, "An Education") seems to pull some strings behind the scenes to get June on the flight, we find that Roy is suddenly a little more uncomfortable with the situation. This leads to a wonderful scene where the two seem to seduce each other with those smiles while Roy hides a grave secret.

It turns out Roy is a spy of some sort. He warns June that some government agents will come to her and tell her he has gone rouge. This comes true. Although Roy is the one whose actions appear to be crazy, it's hard to believe he really is since he's Tom Cruise and Fitzgerald acts like a more typical bad guy. There's much more to the plot, however, this movie isn't about who's who and what's what so much as it's about the smiles and vibrant screen personalities of Diaz and Cruise.

Mangold and first-time screenwriter Patrick O'Neill capitalize on Diaz's personality by making June both na*ve and smart at once. There aren't many moments in the movie when Diaz isn't sporting that broad smile of hers, and Mangold's camera seems very aware of this. The same can be said for Cruise, but Diaz made more of an impact on me. You just want to spend time with her, and Cruise only compliments that sentiment.

Spending time with Diaz is a necessity for this movie, as the filmmakers pull off the rare feat in modern filmmaking of presenting only one character's perspective throughout the duration of the film. Everything is seen from June's standpoint. By doing this, the audience must decide, just as June does, who is lying to her, why and how. While the plot is not as important as the perfect looking leads, this helps propel the action forward with a bit more at stake for the audience than your average thriller where you get to see the bad guys doing all their bad deeds and see how the hero reacts. Here, you don't know if June's reactions are correct or not.

The truth is, however, you do know. The filmmakers don't seem as interested in concealing the truth about Roy as much as they're interested in presenting Diaz's and Cruise's beautiful bodies and smiles. But that's OK, because you don't really want Cruise to be the bad guy. You don't really want Diaz to be crushed. You want to see these two together. And when you do, it'll make you smile.

"Knight and Day" is currently playing at Galaxy Cinema in Sedalia.

Visit A Penny in the Well for movie clips, DVDs, and star rating scale.



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A Penny in the Well
ANDREW D. WELLS
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Andrew is a professionally trained actor and stage director. He was a reporter for the daily newspaper The Marshall Democrat News. He has been critiquing film since Mr. Lucas released the first of his "Star Wars" prequels in 1999. His reviews can also be seen at his blog site.
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