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Hollywood Product: Knight and Day

Cruise and Diaz catch planes, trains and automobiles in frantic Knight and Day



GENRE: Generic action-romance

THE PITCH: Single gal June (Cameron Diaz) has an airport meet-cute with dashing Ray (Tom Cruise), only to discover that he's a renegade government agent who drags her along on a globe-trotting chase for a dangerous invention called "the Zephyr." Can Ray keep ahead of evil arms dealers and ambiguous feds (including Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis) long enough to get June to her sister's wedding?

MONEY SHOTS: Ray's high-impact fight scene in an airplane, seen at one point through the exterior windows. The airplane's emergency landing that nearly flattens a truck on the highway. Ray and June ride a motorcycle that squeaks between two streetcars. A chase scene takes place, ridiculously, in the midst of Spain's running of the bulls, but we do get to see a bad guy's car trampled.

BEST LINE: "Nobody follow us or I kill myself and then her!" Ray bellows while taking June hostage at gunpoint (for her own good, of course) in the middle of a crowded diner. Cruise's toothy charm spans from casual to oppressive, but he gives his most likeable performance in years.

FASHION STATEMENTS: June spends many of the initial car chases in a sharp yellow bridesmaid's dress and incongruously clunky boots. While on the run, she somehow comes up with a chic pinstripe suit. Ray spends much of the movie in Cruise's patented swagger-wear: sunglasses, white T-shirt, jeans, khaki jacket.

BODY COUNT: Ray must have a license to kill, since he fatally dispatches a couple dozen opponents — including some government agents who probably have no reason to believe he's not a rogue, and thus don't deserve to be shot, stabbed, crushed in cars, etc.

RETIRE THIS SHOT: Sarsgaard's agent sees Ray staring at him across a crowded street, then passersby block his view and — gasp! — Ray's gone! He's like Jason Bourne or the Mission Impossible guy!

FLESH FACTOR: Cruise takes his shirt off at pretty much any opportunity. Diaz rocks a red bikini at Ray's island getaway.

SOUNDTRACK HITS: Pop songs provide short-hand for characterization: Ray's scruffy inventor friend (Paul Dano) blares Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes," while Ray has a "Louie, Louie" ringtone. A mushy line about how "someday" is just another word for "never" inspires the closing-credits song "Someday (Theme from Knight and Day)" by the Black Eyed Peas.

SEXIST SUBTEXT? June becomes increasingly capable as the film goes along, but Knight and Day includes an unpleasant motif of June getting doped with truth serum, knocked out and otherwise rendered helpless. Probably most of Ray's wild claims are the literal truth, but he controls and manipulates her in uncomfortable ways throughout the movie, and the climactic reversals don't compensate for it. Plus, since June restores classic cars for a living, it's like she has to be an honorary man to be Ray's equal.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Formerly called Wichita before taking the forgettable name Knight and Day, the film might as well be called Generic Romantic Comedy-Thriller under James Mangold's fast-paced but unmemorable direction. Initially resembling a remake of The In-Laws, only with the possibility that the two leads will have sex, Knight and Day eventually brings up unwelcome memories of True Lies, although Cruise and Diaz prove that star power can carry a vehicle a long way.

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