Monday, June 28, 2010

Follow The Day And Reach For The Sun

Makers of bad movies often try to shield themselves from criticism by telling critics, "Don't be such a tightass. This is supposed to be fun." Last year's Transformers 2 is a good example of this. We were all told to ignore the incomprehensible plot, the somewhat racist robots, the dull and inconsistent characters, the stupid dialogue and ADD inducing editing because it was all done in the name of fun. On the other hand, some movies actually are fun and don't need to trumpet this fact to defend their quality because fun movies are, by definition, good movies. Knight and Day is a fun movie because it has likable characters who do and say interesting things. It's not realistic but it's not supposed to be and it makes up for that in entertaining ways so I didn't mind when the lead character drove his motorcycle into the air at a speed of around 50 MPH and managed to land on the hood of a moving car from a height of about 30 feet without breaking several bones or even getting scratched.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz play Roy Miller and June Havens, two who get together through a stroke of fate and stay together because they look like Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Roy sees June walking in an airport and "accidentally" runs into her a few times where she discovers that "coincidentally" they are on the same flight. As the two hottest people on the plane, they're obligated to start flirting while Roy takes note of the menacing looks he's getting from the few other passengers on the plane. When June goes into the restroom to beautify herself so she can look good while acting like she wouldn't have Roy's baby right then, Roy enters into a life and death struggle with every other person on the plane, including the flight crew. Life and death is the proper term as June discovers when Roy, calm and charming as always, informs her that they are the only two people left alive on the plane and that they are about to crash.

From there we move from Boston to the Caribbean to the Alps to Paris as Roy and June try to outrun both ruthless gangsters and Roy's murderous ex-CIA partner who all want some sort of new super battery in Roy's possession. The partner tries to convince June that he's actually the good guy and that Roy is an agent who's gone rogue but the partner has the misfortune of being played by Peter Sarsgaard, a guy who always plays villains in big budget Hollywood films, so we know he's lying.

One particularly entertaining sequence occurs when Roy drugs June. She drifts in and out of consciousness for the next 18 hours, waking up for brief periods in order to acknowledge both the various horrific situations that they're in and the brilliant rescues made possible by a highly competent CIA agent whose fate is controlled by screenwriters who are on his side. When June wakes up, they're on a tropical island that has served for many years as the one place no one can find Roy. She's righteously pissed when she finds herself wearing a bikini, something she wasn't wearing when she passed out, and doesn't seem pacified by Roy's explanation that spy skills are so elite that he was able to strip her naked and dress her in a swimsuit without seeing anything though he fails to say if he felt anything. Still, June couldn't have been that upset as she almost makes out with him five minutes later, an act only interrupted when the bad guys track them down.

The movie is entertaining when it's the cute and charming characters being cute and charming and falls apart somewhat when the big CGI action sequences kick in. Gratuitous CGI really annoys me. It's usually easy to spot like in the scene where Roy and June are on a motorcycle and miraculously drive between two oncoming trains. Movies like the Bourne films or, more recently, the Jackie Chan update of The Karate Kid show how entertaining the art of cinema can be when you show real people in real places doing real things whereas movies like Transformers and The A-Team show his dull, distracting and lifeless movies can be when all the good stuff takes place inside a computer.

Still, I don't see this trend ending anytime soon and Knight and Day is good when the characters aren't going up against computer generated photons so I'll take what I can get and recommend Knight and Day.

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