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Knight and Day (2010)

David James/20th Century Fox

Despite his couch-jumping, anti-psychiatry-ranting theatrics, Tom Cruise remains one of our top movie stars. He shows why in “Knight and Day,” a romantic caper that thrives thanks to his larger-than life-charisma.

The actor, nearly 48, gives off the devilish charm, the wily playful spirit of Cary Grant in his prime. Imbuing straightforward dialogue and outlandish plot developments with a self-aware, winking sense of their absurdity, Mr. Cruise transforms director James Mangold’s thinly plotted lark into one of those rarest of phenomena: a genuinely entertaining summer movie for adults.

The story, such that it is, concerns the continuing misadventures of June Havens (Cameron Diaz), the world’s most statuesque mechanic. A series of unfortunate events involving a well-choreographed airplane fight, a speedy car chase and some angry feds finds her on the run with rogue secret agent Roy Miller (Mr. Cruise). The pair hops the globe as the government baddies and a crime lord give chase, seeking the magic MacGuffin in Roy’s possession.

Mr. Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma”) directs fresh, spirited action scenes that achieve the maximum comic effect, a long way removed from the bland sound-and-noise violence of most summer fare. Throughout the rest of the film, he emphasizes character over spectacle. When Mr. Cruise takes down an airplane full of baddies, or whisks a drugged Ms. Diaz to the tropics through some precarious predicaments that are revealed in blurry flashes, Mr. Mangold and his team reveal a sense of lightness and spontaneity missing from most similar ventures these days.

Sure, the narrative makes but the slightest shred of sense. It functions as little more than an excuse for Mr. Cruise and Ms. Diaz to embark upon the standard romantic arc, transitioning from bickering rivals to passionate lovers. Set against picturesque backdrops across Europe, the United States and the tropics, though, it’s a pleasant bit of nonsense, made all the more palatable by Mr. Cruise’s terrific work.

Knight and Day

Opens on June 23 in the United States and on July 2 in Britain.

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mr. Mangold and Patrick O’Neill, based on a story by Mr. O’Neill; director of photography, Phedon Papamichael; edited by Michael McCusker; music by John Powell; production designer, Andrew Menzies; costumes by Arianne Phillips; produced by Cathy Konrad, Steve Pink and Todd Garner; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Tom Cruise (Roy Miller), Cameron Diaz (June Havens), Peter Sarsgaard (Fitzgerald), Viola Davis (Director George), Paul Dano (Simon Feck) and Jordi Mollà (Antonio Quintana).


Mr. Levin, I was on RT trying to decide what movie I would go see tonight and I saw your post for Knight and Day. You had such a passion for movies as I recalled in high school and I'm happy to see that you're still writing! In the future I'll be sure to consult your reviews. Hope all is going well. Let me know your whereabouts, maybe we can catch a flick sometime!

Luke Leidenfrost

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