Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Film Review | Knight And Day (2010)

Maybe Knight And Day isn't the kind of film that was made for close scrutiny. Maybe it's the kind of film that should be allowed to just rattle along at a fair pace and provide middle-of-the-road action with little brain activity required. But when a film contains such insultingly lazy writing and direction as this, making some major errors that even the most pedestrian of shoot-em-'up popcorn flicks manage to avoid, it deserves everything that's about to be thrown at it.

Tonally, the film is a mess. Director James Mangold seems entirely unable to decide what style of universe he wants his film to inhabit. One minute we're presented with tense realism as Cameron Diaz's June finds herself frantically evading shady CIA operatives with questionable motives; the next she's having meta statements about killing people with big guns spouted at her by Tom Cruise - last seen this manic atop Oprah Winfrey's sofa - as rogue CIA agent Roy Miller. Mangold doesn't do any better in reigning in the tone of his characters: Diaz is a ditz who can't be trusted with a machine gun in one scene, then shooting at bad guys whilst straddling Cruise on a motorbike a few sequences later. Cruise's Roy meanwhile runs the gamut of mental stability to the point of driving the audience a bit loopy themselves.

Things go from bad to worse when the focus is shifted to the script. Writer Patrick O'Neill is either a very weak writer, a very lazy writer, or both. If you're reading, Mr. O'Neill, here's a tip: if you can't think of a way to move from one scene to the next, don't just choose to drug one of your characters, switch to their point of view, then have the screen fade to black then fade in again somewhere else. It's indolent and amateurish. The worst thing is, this doesn't just happen once, but becomes a regular occurrence happening at several points in the film. Plot holes are left gaping, at times even seeming to be intentionally pointed out as if that makes them okay. This is more than just lazy writing; it's downright insulting to the audience.

With such major flaws as this, Knight And Day becomes impossible to enjoy on more than the most scant and rudimentary levels. Even the title is a half-baked idea (I'll leave it to you to discover which half). Serious talent such as Paul Dano has no business being wasted providing minor support in dross such as this. Much better lightweight action fare of this ilk has been made before and since, meaning that there's really no justification to recommend Knight And Day for any reason. Just watch something else: chances are it'll be more worthwhile than this.


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