Knight and Day

(2010) *** Pg-13
110 min. 20th Century Fox Distribution. Director: James Mangold. Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molla, Viola Davis.

/content/films/3906/1.jpgWith The Tourist tanking at the multiplex, there's no better time to enjoy the simple pleasures of Knight and Day, now on home video. Whereas The Tourist utterly fails to locate any entertainment value in the action-adventure pairing of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, Knight and Day clicks with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Sure, Knight and Day is inconsequential and deliberately ridiculous, but that's its easy charm. Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) seems to gel with the screen-savvy movie star Cruise, who again performs as many of his stunts as insurance carriers will allow.

Diaz plays June Havens, just a regular gal who restores classic cars. Okay, right there, you have a road sign blaring "Next 10,000 miles: Suspend Your Disbelief." Indeed, June's adventure will take her over ten thousand miles, from the Wichita airport to Boston to Brooklyn to the Caribbean to Salzburg to Pamplona. Yes, it's that kind of movie. And who doesn't love that kind of movie? Let's suppose you're not sold yet: enter Tom Cruise, giving his most self-aware performance to date (a la Cary Grant in Charade) as a superstar secret agent with brazen ultra-competence qualified by a disconcertingly manic energy. Take "secret agent" out of that sentence and CIA agent Roy Miller sounds an awful lot like a certain couch-jumper we all know. Of course, the movie lives by the Cruise and dies by the Cruise, so if you can't stand the toothy star, you're out of luck. For the rest of us, Cruise has still got it: charisma to spare and an undimmed athleticism. He can still run across the screen and run at the mouth with the best of them.

The plot details are both largely irrelevant and best left unspoiled. Suffice it to say that, in classic fashion, Roy sweeps June up into a head-spinning, life-threatening adventure. Roy has his hands on the film's MacGuffin—a self-renewable energy source called The Zephyr—and the young wizard (Paul Dano) who created it. Roy's position has compromised him with the CIA (peer Peter Saarsgard and chief Viola Davis both want him brought in yesterday) and made him the target of a Spanish arms dealer (Jordi Mollà) who recognizes the Zephyr's uncalculable worth. Roy tells the wide-eyed June that he's the good guy in the scenario and not, as the CIA claims, a rogue operative looking to sell the device. Again, Charade comes to mind: would you trust this man? And if you're the woman in his thrall, can you escape falling for him?

Diaz may not be Audrey Hepburn, but she remains a likeable screen presence, from her feminine freak-outs to her emergence as a name-taking ass-kicker. She counterpoints Cruise nicely, and makes a reasonably credible (wish-fulfilling) audience surrogate. Mangold proves again that he's one of Hollwood's most reliable purveyors of quality mainstream cinema, and he's an ace with action, whether it's a cleverly staged fight exploiting every found weapon in the narrow tube of an aircraft cabin or a car-motorcycle-bull chase through Spanish streets. As a pure popcorn, dreams-writ-large, kiss-kiss-bang-bang, globetrotting romp, Knight and Day delivers.

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Bluray

Aspect ratios: 2.40:1

Number of discs: 3

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 11/30/2010

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Fox delivers Knight and Day in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy special edition that will more than satisfy home viewers. The hi-def transfer is simply flawless: bright and tight, the picture brims with sharp detail and texture, keen color, and a perfect calibration of contrast and black level. No digital artifacts intrude, and the image retains a generally natural appearance with the finest of film grain. The rat-a-tat-tat (in dialogue and sound effects) lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix will please audiophiles with its discrete separation and soundfield immersion: it's crystal clear.

Unfortunately, the bonus features are strictly fluffy. I would've liked to have heard from the screenwriters and the director in a commentary, but we're left with a clutch of brief promos. "Wilder Knights and Crazier Days" (12:30, HD) and "Boston Days and Spanish Knights" (8:10, HD) serve up some interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses, along with interview clips with director James Mangold, Cruise, Diaz, Saarsgard and some key technicians. The former is a generic making-of, while the second looks at production on location.

"Knight and 'Someday'" (9:09, HD) is an intriguing, somewhat unique, and, yeah, strictly promotional promo following Cruise and Katie Holmes backstage to hang with the Black Eyed Peas, and then onto the concert stage as the movie star and his chosen musical artists debut the film's closing-titles song.

"Viral Video: Soccer" (1:10, HD) and "Viral Video: Kick" (1:23, HD) are a couple of cutesy web promos, with Cruise and Diaz not so casually "hanging out" on the set.

"Knight and Day: Story" (3:50, HD) and "Knight and Day: Scope" (3:05, HD) are two more promos, which largely repeat clips while focusing, respectively, on plot and big-budget scale.

Last up are the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:26, HD) and the BD-Live Exclusive promo "Not Your Regular Spy" (2:42, HD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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