Whenever the name Tom Cruise comes up, it seems as if there’s no middle ground. People either love him, or they hate him. Although I am among those who think he is terrific, I firmly believe that the voters for the annual Academy Awards are members of the latter group. Cruise has been nominated for the coveted gold statue three times, but he has yet to win.
I’ve seen just about every film Cruise has made, and the only one I really didn’t care for was “Eyes Wide Shut.” If you look over his body of work, you’ll see that he has created some very memorable characters in his illustrious career. Among my favorites are Joel Goodsen in “Risky Business,” Stefen Djordjevic in “All the Right Moves,” Maverick in “Top Gun,” Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July,” and Lt. Daniel Kaffee in “A Few Good Men.”
Now after watching “Night and Day,” I can add Roy Miller to the list of Cruise’s most memorable characters. Roy is the main guy in this highly entertaining film that combines the elements of drama, romance, mystery, comedy, and action, in a fast-paced thrill ride reminiscent of such classics as “Charade” and “North by Northwest.”
“Knight and Day” begins innocuously enough in the Wichita, Kans., airport, where Roy is preparing to board a plane. On two separate occasions he literally bumps into the same woman and the two of the ultimately strike up a conversation. Her name is June Havens (Cameron Diaz), and she’s on her way to Boston for her sister’s wedding, but she can’t find a seat on the plane that just so happens to be the same plane Roy is boarding. Now without attempting to explain the events that transpire, let’s just say that June finally obtains a seat on the plane. In fact, she is place right next to Roy, and she is very puzzled because there are very few people on the plane.
After takeoff, Roy and June become better acquainted, but she is unable to figure out exactly what Roy does for a living, and he isn’t willing to tell much about himself.
When June excuses herself to use the bathroom, things kick into action as Roy ends up killing all the passengers (after they attack him) and both pilots. When June emerges from the restroom, she’s stunned to learn that Roy is the only one available to land the plane, and his piloting skills aren’t the most polished on the planet. After they survive the landing, Roy drugs June, and when she finally wakes up, she realizes that Roy is not playing with a full deck.
We finally learn that Roy is an FBI agent on the run from the FBI because he has been wrongly suspected of turning rogue. He and June end up traveling from Spain to California to Jamaica to Spain to Austria in order to clear his name and obtain a special object that can have a great impact on the world.
“Knight and Day” is a movie that offers action-packed fun from beginning to end, and the reason it works so well is that Cruise and Diaz are simply sensational together. They maintain a wonderful line of extended banter throughout the film, and they have a superb chemistry that makes their romantic attraction seem like the most natural thing in the world. As you watch this film, it’s evident that both actors thoroughly enjoyed making the film, and in the production notes, they explained why they were attracted to the project.
“Knight and Day has everything I love in movies,” said Cruise. “It’s a perfect mix of action, comedy and fresh, identifiable characters with a love story that feels very organic. What interested me so much about the story of Roy and June is that everything that happens to them happens through the prism of action. The challenge and joy for Cameron and me was finding ways to reveal our characters in the middle of these manic moments of danger — showing how Roy and June start to bring out the best in each other, which is the ultimate romantic idea.”
“I was drawn to Knight and Day not only for its high-level action, but because I saw it as an impassioned love story between two people who find each other from opposite worlds,” Diaz explained. “Roy and June have that thing where they each bring out something interesting and unexpected in the other, and I thought that would be so much fun to explore on this thrilling ride with Tom.”
And much of the film is a “thrilling ride” with some great chase scenes, and when June and Roy climb onto a flashy red motorcycle, hang on to your seat. From everything I have read about the production, both Cruise and Diaz did most of their own stunts, and some of them were highly dangerous. Just wait until you see the bulls!
In addition to being filled with action, the film also offers some romance, and in the production notes director James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) offered some interesting insight into the movie.
“One of the fun questions the movie asks is the following: Even if you are a spy capable of bringing down a plane or saving the world, can you handle a relationship? You have these two wonderfully opposite characters – a woman who has always had a fantasy of going somewhere but has never let go enough to do it and a man who has been absolutely everywhere, but has never let himself know love. It’s a collision of opposite desires from the moment they meet.”
“Knight and Day” (Let’s give it an 8.) offers viewers excellent escape entertainment, and with June and Roy it introduces two characters I would love to see in more films. I’m not a big fan of sequels, but Cruise and Diaz are so good in this movie that I would be the first in line to see them reprise their roles in future movies. In fact, I could watch them work together any day or night.