Knight and Day
Directed by James Mangold
For the last few years, the summer blockbuster roster has been divided quite distinctly by gender demographic, with humourless, flippant superhero movies taking the exaggerated male drag performance highway and female rom-coms catering to antiquated standards of femininity. And what's kind of fantastic about Knight and Day is that it understands this completely, merging the genres with unabashed absurdity and its tongue firmly in cheek, playing with expectations and even Tom Cruise's unstable public persona for narrative and comic needs.
As the title suggests, this is a knight in shining armour parable with bickering romantic leads, much like the wildly entertaining Romancing the Stone. Even the coveted item at the centre of the story ― a perpetual energy battery ― is contained within a toy knight container, as the bewildered June (Cameron Diaz) runs, flies and speedboats around the world with Roy Miller (Cruise), a superhuman spy protecting the device from rogue agent Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard).
These action set pieces alone make for riveting popcorn entertainment, with European motorcycle chases, on-flight assassination attempts and warehouse shootouts taking full creative advantage of their environments without forgetting the comedy quotient of these unlikely scenarios. Mangold pulls off this clever balance by thrilling with propulsive chases and amusing through cartoonish buffoonery, such as having sausage links sustain the weight of a grown man.
Even the romantic exposition comes in the middle of machinegun battles, or with Tom Cruise riding the hood of a car in pursuit, leaving stationary tedium to a minimum. Sure, things slow down a bit around the midway point, making it clear that there is very little going on here aside from cheesy escapist fantasy, but things quickly pick up again, engaging us in the moment of a movie that knows exactly what mainstream trash cinema should be.
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