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Knight and Day

Call Him Cruise, Tom Cruise

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

The words “implausible”, “absurd”, “ridiculous”, and “ludicrous”, among others, are all accurate in describing Knight and Day, the latest summer blockbuster wannabe starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, and directed by James Mangold (9:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) from Patrick O’Neill’s screenplay.

Knight and Day is one part action-parody and one-part romantic comedy, with a decided emphasis on Cruise's action heroics and a de-emphasis on the romantic comedy conventions many moviegoers have come to love or loathe.

Knight and Day focuses on Roy Miller (Cruise), a “best of the best” super-spy, and June Havens (Diaz), an auto shop owner trying to get back to Los Angeles from Wichita, Kansas. Miller literally bumps into June, not to spark a romantic encounter, but to use June as a courier for Knight and Day’s MacGuffin, a revolutionary power source the size of a double-AA battery.

Miller is on the run from the feds — maybe the CIA, maybe the FBI, maybe another unnamed, super-secret government agency. Miller manages to get June off a plane bound for LA, but his nemesis, Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard), who claims Miller is a dangerous, rogue agent, gets her back on the same plane.

Miller unsurprisingly defeats agents sent to stop him, brings the plane down in a Kansas cornfield, and somehow, in a running joke that stretches all the way to the final scene, gets June back to LA after drugging her. He warns June not to talk to any strange men, not to go for rides with said strange men, and to run for her life if they mention the words “safe” and “secure” when talking to her.

She does all three, of course, with Miller miraculously rescuing her from an uncertain fate. Fitzgerald and his boss, the George (Viola Davis), will do anything to get the energy source back, as will a Spanish arms dealer, Antonio (Jordi Mollà), who sends a small army of henchmen after Miller and June.

In between the logic- and gravity-defying set pieces, Miller and June run through the trust issues natural to any relationship forged under unusual circumstances.

It’s all, frankly, ridiculous, but that’s exactly what Mangold and Cruise, with Diaz a willing co-conspirator, intended. As mentioned, Mangold makes a running joke of Miller drugging June just as a particular situation looks hopeless, only for June to awaken, unscathed and slightly confused, in a completely different location. It’s a clever way to cover Knight and Day’s frequent plot holes.

Ultimately, Knight and Day is lightweight, effervescent entertainment, meant to be enjoyed for its stars (fading) charisma, the chemistry between the leads, the screwball-wannabe dialogue, and the set pieces. In a summer crowded with lackluster sequels, remakes, and reboots, it’s more than welcome.