Directed by James Mangold
… is one great big video game shoot-em-up. It reminded me of Saturday morning pictures when Roy Rogers’ and Hopalong Cassidy’s six-shooters could spray twenty or thirty bullets killing twenty or thirty baddies between reloads. They tick every box in the James Bond / Comedy movie: spectacular car chases, fights on board a plane, a plane crash, explosions, thrills on a train in North by Northwest tradition, a great fight in a kitchen on a train, explosions on boats, being on the ground and being attacked by a plane in North by Northwest tradition, car chases through beautiful locations … the Austrian Alps, Salzburg, Sevilla, a Pacific island, a Latin American beach. And Brooklyn too. A train through beautiful locations, a bit like North by Northwest, Then being stampeded by bulls in Sevilla. Did I mention there were some car crashes?
So loadsamoney, and loads more money again chucked in front of the camera, but to what avail? The one North by Northwest box they missed out on was having a leading man with charisma. Tom Cruise does the action hero with gusto, but in interpersonal scenes he has the charisma and fizz of PlayDo. Grey PlayDo too. So the director wisely kept the camera on Cameron Diaz’s expressive features in close up for as long as possible. She’s a natural comedienne, moving from frightened squeaks, to incomprehension to sexy to action heroine. She’s funny throughout. You feel she’s working very hard trying to get a spark from the boy hero, and with her personality and figure you’d expect electricity. Cruise is no Cary Grant. He doesn’t do funny. He doesn’t do sexy. None of the other males in the cast left any impression, except the nerdy boy inventor. You do need a decent villain.
The plot? Well, it’s the old everlasting lightbulb. In this case it’s the AA-size battery that will last forever and power a small city, invented by our teenage nerd. Everyone’s out to get it. It would have been interesting if it was overtly Big Oil trying to lose it (which is one strand, I think), but we don’t really get motivation. Lots of bad guys want it, OK?
You don’t get bored, and there are enough bangs, crashes and cars turning over to keep you awake. You have to compare it with another 2010 boy / girl romp, the British Wild Target. You get the shooting and car chases, but you get Emily Blunt, not so much better than Cameron Diaz (that would be hard for anyone) but heavily advantaged by her youth. You get a bunch of male actors with personality, not PlayDo Action Man. The budget must have been a tiny proportion of what Knight & Day cost.Wild Target’s funnier, more exciting. Just plain better.
Best bit: I liked Tom Cruise’s Louie Louie Ringtone.