Knight and Day (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by James Mangold
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 109 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Review Date: November 29, 2010
A comic caper/thriller with romance thrown in for a sideline should have been catnip for stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, and yet James Mangold’s Knight and Day pretty much squanders its stars’ talents (particularly Diaz) with erratic writing and a particularly ill-defined female lead. The action set pieces are marvelously done and feature some unique thrills, and the locations are eye-popping in their variety and utilitarian use. It’s a pity more time wasn’t spent writing coherent characters for the stars to play, characters which not only generate audience empathy but foster some sense of real danger for their safety and security. When characters stand up as a hail of bullets pings all around them, it’s time to check out of a movie or at least give up hope that our intelligence isn’t going to be at least partly insulted.
Rogue secret agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) is being hunted by the CIA for his participation in the abduction of scientist/inventor Simon Feck (Paul Dano) and his highly prized invention the zephyr, a ultra-powerful battery with indefinite operational life. Car restorer June Havens (Cameron Diaz ) mistakenly gets placed on an airliner containing only Roy Miller and a handful of enemy agents out to get the zephyr, and once she becomes involved in these espionage games, Roy finds it necessary to continually watch her back even though she never knows exactly whom to trust but in her own stubborn, determined way, she’s convinced she can take care of herself without his help.
After Cruise and Diaz knock each other down in the airport for a second time within the first five minutes of the movie, the filmmakers pretty much make it clear to the audience that realism and ratiocination are abandoned commodities in this inconsistent movie. Sure, screenwriter Patrick O'Neill is trying to mine the same romantic espionage thriller genre that Hitchcock plumbed so expertly in The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, and North by Northwest, but his droll take on repartee between the stars is wearing after a time, and Diaz’s June invariably stumbles and bumbles her way through mishaps and mayhems without garnering so much as a scratch or a bruise (and, of course, when she turns out to have super agent-like skills by the end, one is long past caring). The running gag of Roy’s drugging June to move her out of harm’s way with minimal interference from her seems a lazy way to jump from one international location to the next without bothering to explain how passports, flights, check-ins and the like are dealt with. James Mangold handles all of the action scenes with professional ease making the Boston road chase, the attack on Roy’s Caribbean retreat, the running (motorcycling) with the bulls in Seville, and a rooftop chase in Austria the film’s high points. What’s missing, however, is the effervescence. For all of the fights and flights, there’s no real fizz, and the romantic chemistry between the two stars is a fizzle.
Tom Cruise is still trying the mine the old charm though he’s beginning to look a little worn around the edges (though still in great shape, a couple of shirtless scenes betray a middle aged man in very good condition). Still, he handles the dry, quaint, non-plussed attitude for his character with some pinache (though George Clooney and Matt Damon are better at this sort of thing). It isn’t Cameron Diaz’s fault that her June begins the film with the brains of a potato and continues along those lines for a long, long time before finally wising up to the dangers around her instead of treating it all like one big goof. The screenwriter really lets her down in not giving her a consistent point of view or even a modicum of common sense. Peter Sarsgaard plays a CIA agent whose loyalties are obviously compromised, but though Viola Davis’s CIA director seems to have a hard time seeing through his chicanery, it couldn’t be clearer to the audience from the beginning. The most appealing supporting character is June’s ex-boy friend Rodney played by Marc Blucas. With a puppyish loyalty and just the right mixture of sincerity and heroics, he’s the one actor who seems to have the proper level of exuberance that the rest of the movie could have used as a model for its tone. It’s a pity he’s only in one sequence.
The film’s 2.40:1 Panavision aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Overall, the image quality is quite excellent with sharpness that reveals details in faces and clothing and with nicely saturated color that highlights the whirlwind world tour the characters are a part of. Flesh tones are appealing if occasionally a bit brown. There are occasional soft shots which are inconsistent with the overall expert clarity of most of the movie. Black levels are well captured. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack does not get all of the bang for the buck that such a whiz-bang action picture usually offers. There certainly are prime moments of surround activity in the numerous action scenes, and John Powell’s score is fleshed out into the surround channels during both action and quieter scenes. But there is lacking still a sense of intense envelopment that one expects with films of this type. It’s a very good sound mix, but it isn’t an exemplary one.
“Wilder Knights and Crazier Days” is a featurette concentrating on the many action scenes in the movie requiring intense stunt work which Cruise and Diaz did as much as possible. In addition to the director, producer Cathy Konrad, and the two stars, the film’s stunt coordinator, special effects coordinator, and cinematographer all discuss the three major set pieces in the film: the highway chase, the fight on the flight, and the rooftop chase. This 12 ½-minute feature is presented in 1080p.
“Boston Days and Spanish Knights” features the director and stars along with the film’s production designer discussing the five different countries which hosted locations for the film. This featurette runs 8 ¼ minutes in 1080p.
“Knight and ‘Someday’” details how Tom Cruise originally met the Black Eyed Peas and insisted they write a song for the film. The song “Someday” is performed by the Peas at their London concert with Cruise in attendance. This runs 9 ¼ minutes in 1080i.
“Viral Video: Soccer” finds Cruise and Diaz kicking a soccer ball back and forth between takes. This runs 1 ¼ minutes in 1080i.
“Viral Video: Kick” is a goof with Diaz practicing a lunge kick and Cruise standing in for the stuntman while she practices. It runs 1 ¼ minutes in 1080i.
“Knight and Day: Story” is part of a EPK vignette used in the preparation of the above longer featurettes where the director and the stars of the film (including Peter Sarsgaard) tell the story of the movie featuring film clips. It runs 3 ¾ minutes in 1080i.
“Knight and Day: Scope” once again is an EPK vignette used in the longer featurettes on the disc where the stars (including Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis) discuss the marvels of working on location for this project. It lasts 3 minutes in 1080i.
The theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes in 1080p.
There is a BD-Live portal on the disc, but it was not active during the reviewing period. According to the press notes, it contains Live LookUp and features an exclusive featurette “Not Your Regular Spy” not on the disc.
The disc contains 1080p trailers for The A-Team, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Street Kings 2.
The second disc in the set is a DVD copy of the movie.
The third disc in the set is a digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions of installation on Mac and PC devices.
3/5 (not an average)
Knight and Day mixes an inconsistent tone and erratically-formed characters with some fine action scenes and beautiful international locations. The Blu-ray release offers excellent video and pleasing audio with some fluffy bonus features and DVD and digital copies of the movie.