Tom Cruise plays what amounts to a comic version of Mission: Impossible's Ethan Hunt in Knight and Day, a slick and shallow film that still manages to entertain.
Cruise plays Roy Miller, a mysterious man who bumps into the beautiful June Havens (Cameron Diaz) at an airport. The two wind up on a plane together, have a quick chat and realize that they have quite a bit in common—and would perhaps like to have sexy time together.
When June makes a bathroom pit stop, Miller—for reasons not yet explained—kills everybody on the plane. (Hey, it's in the commercials, so I'm not giving anything away.)
Miller ditches the plane in a cornfield, drugs June and leaves her in her home—with breakfast ready. As things turn out, Miller may or may not be a bad guy; he could be a rogue agent being pursued by the members of the FBI, including an ambiguous fellow named Fitzgerald (the ever-reliable Peter Sarsgaard).
Director James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) and Cruise show that the wacky movie star still has it. For starters, Cruise remains super-good-looking. The shirt comes off multiple times, and I must admit that things are quite impressive under there for a 47-year-old man. Jesus, that Scientology stuff is like the Fountain of Youth. I might have to start reading some Dianetics.
Cruise is also funny. While the yuck factor doesn't quite reach the levels of Les Grossman (his crazed Tropic Thunder character), he is a hoot, especially as he conducts a calm conversation while riding on the hood of a car and shooting bad guys. He repeats the "polite and calm in the face of madness" comic routine when he forcibly removes June from a diner, politely putting a bullet through a leg of her ex-boyfriend (Marc Blucas).
Cruise plays these scenes with his trademark grin, but he doesn't play them like they are funny; the choice to play them straight leads to a type of effortless hilarity. Had Cruise gone the slapstick route, he would've messed up the scenes.
As for Diaz, she's just not cutting it at this point in her career, and she's responsible for many of the film's weaker moments. She's far from terrible, but she isn't half as good as Cruise in this film. This is the second time the two have shared the screen (they had some brief moments in Vanilla Sky), and they don't have good chemistry. They should've gotten Cruise's wife, Katie Holmes, to play June. That would've been an inspired choice.
Sarsgaard heads a supporting cast that includes other semi-big names in small roles. Paul Dano plays a scientist who invented an amazing gadget that Miller is either trying to steal or protect. Maggie Grace has a couple of minutes of screen time as June's sister, and Viola Davis logs a few days of work as an FBI bigwig. It's nice to see their faces, but—with the exception of Sarsgaard—they don't really do anything.
Nope, this is Tom Cruise's show, and little else. Mangold does a nice job of setting the stage for his star, and providing him with the sort of lightheaded entertainment that will help the public start liking him again. Despite Cruise's Oprah couch dance and his comments about anti-depressants, a few more fun films like this should put him back in the fickle public's good graces.