Eric D. Snider

Knight and Day

Movie Review

Knight and Day

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: B

Released: June 23, 2010


Directed by:


The thing about Tom Cruise is that even though he's kind of a nutjob in real life, put him in a movie that plays to his strengths and he'll dazzle you the way he did 20 years ago. "Knight and Day" is a reminder that he still has his movie-star appeal, and maybe even more so than we realized. For while his career has mostly focused on action-hero and dramatic roles, here he handles comedy and secret-agent stuff with equal agility. Who knew?? I ask you, who knew?

Cruise plays Roy Miller, an FBI agent who may or may not have gone rogue and may or may not be trying to procure a super-powerful new energy device for his own purposes. We meet him through June Havens (Cameron Diaz), a woman he runs into at the Wichita airport who's flying home to Boston for her sister's wedding. There is some physical chemistry between them, mostly in the form of June becoming flustered and flighty (you know, the way all women always do in the presence of any attractive man). Soon they're running from men who are trying to shoot Roy, who are either bad guys or good guys, and June is either his partner or his hostage. Involved in all of this is a spacey tech genius who needs to be protected, played by Paul Dano.

Roy tells June that if the other guys (led by Peter Sarsgaard as an FBI agent) get a hold of her, they'll tell her that Roy is not to be trusted because he's insane. Given what she has already seen of his behavior, this would be plausible. Nonetheless, she doesn't know who's telling the truth, Roy or the other guys, and sticking with Roy seems to provide her best hope for survival. Plus, as mentioned, she kind of has the hots for him.

Thus ensues a globe-trotting adventure not unlike those in the "Mission: Impossible" films, except that here Cruise is funny, and possibly out of his mind. Roy Miller is a terrifically engaging character, always confident and enthusiastic, even when things are going awry and he's moving to plan B. He's the kind of dynamically optimistic smooth-talker who can shoot you in the leg, then convince you he's done you a favor. (That's not a fanciful example. He really does that.)

June's character is quite a bit less well written, though performed cheerfully -- and non-gratingly -- by Diaz. June talks to herself an awful lot, usually for the audience's benefit (a sign of lazy writing), and flits randomly from one state of mind to another. One minute she's panicking over the panic-worthy circumstances surrounding her; the next she's taking it all in stride, as if to the manner born. One minute she thinks Roy is awful for basically kidnapping her; the next minute -- and I mean literally one minute later -- she's melting in his arms, poised for a make-out session. The screenplay, originally by newcomer Patrick O'Neill, was subjected to multiple rewrites over the course of its five-year (!) journey to cinemas; it's clear more attention was ultimately paid to Roy than to June.

The director, James Mangold, has previously dealt with crazy characters ("Girl, Interrupted"), romantic comedy ("Kate & Leopold"), and action ("3:10 to Yuma"), so "Knight and Day" seems to come fairly naturally. The special effects in the scenes that require them aren't particularly convincing -- I can't believe there wasn't a higher budget for that sort of thing -- but at least they are shot well. Mangold maintains a light tone throughout, focusing the greatest tension on emotional issues like whether June can trust Roy, rather than on life-or-death ones. So it's more comedy than action, which is fine, because the comedy is zesty and not overly quirky, and mostly pretty funny. More of this, Mr. Cruise! More of this.

(Note: The title is awful. The "Knight" part sort of comes into play, tangentially, but there's no reason for the "Day" part. And as a whole, "Knight and Day" doesn't mean anything. THIS ANGERS ME.)

Grade: B

Rated PG-13, some profanity, one F-word, a lot of action violence, nothing graphic

1 hr., 44 min.

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This item has 32 comments

  1. Dave says:

    I kept waiting for an explanation of the title through the whole review. I thought "Well, Cruise's character must be named Knight, or something...wait, he's not? What the...?" Thanks for (sort of) clearing it up for me, Eric!

  2. Andrea Harrison says:

    It probably doesn't really matter but I wonder if they called it the Wichita airport. I had the misfortune of living there for 7 years and there's no such name of an airport there. I dislike lazy research especially when it's something so easy to find out.

  3. Alex says:

    Perhaps the title made more sense before all the rewrites.

  4. Casey says:

    Has anyone seen this movie yet? I'd like to get another point of view on the movie before I see it.

  5. Melissa says:

    Knight and Day...the title is obvious. Don't over think it.

  6. Dave says:

    Andrea: actually, they often use fake place names (e.g., Lincoln International Airport in Airport). It solves a lot of issues with the fictional vs. real world.

  7. Linda says:

    I saw this today and would go back to see it again. The name of the airport really wasn't important to the plot and they could have called it anything. The blend of action and humor was maintained in balance throughout the movie. I really enjoyed it. 5 stars from me.

  8. Andrea Harrison says:

    Dave: Oh, I didn't even think of that. Okay I won't be bugged anymore, at least by that.

  9. Americana Lady says:

    I think Knight and Day is a play on words. Is he a Knight or the opposite? The opposite of night is day. Yes I know that knight and night are different meanings. An example of the chaos in the movies...things aren't what they seem and keep changing.

  10. Julia Jordan says:

    The Knight is the toy he buys at the airport to store the "battery" in to get it through security. I think the "day" relates to the "someday" Makes sense to me. I thought it was a fun & entertaining movie!A great escape.

  11. Ole says:

    Hey, the "Day" part was related to "Someday" line that I actually like

  12. Rob Goodridge says:

    I got the Knight part. Sure there is the symbolism of the knight that holds the "goods", But it is also the name on the mailbox at his parent's house. Knight is his real name... but alas, I'm still lost on the "Day" link. I guess I just missed it.

    Good flick though. I like how they implied a lot of action scenes without actually having to endure them.

  13. Centrico says:

    Knight and Day no meaning? Are you a looking at it clearly? YES IT DOES HAVE MEANING...


    Tom's Character's 'Real Name' was "Matthew Knight", matthew grew up believing "someDAY" never happens, when in fact it did just that, the two lovers got their Some DAY hence you have Knight and Day...

    This type of titling does not differ far from:

    Suicide Kings

    If you have seen the movie you might think the same thing you thought about the title of this one... but a deeper look, you will realize that the two lover/characters in Suicide Kings planned and plotted the whole story to setup their own dramatic SUICIDE, hence the name Suicide Kings.

    Dig a little deeper and you will have fun with these titles.


  14. michele ellington says:

    My friend and I both enjoyed the movie yesterday and plan to buy the DVD. We wouldn't mind seeing it a second time at the theater if other friends want company when they go. We are an easy sell, we go to the movies with the intention of enjoying them, not looking for a reason to be disappointed. But we both felt this film was a cut above, very fun and engaging. I especially liked the turnabout at the end where she was protecting and caring for him, even consciously rerunning an earlier conversation in mirror form. I didn't have too much trouble with Diaz' June flip-flopping emotions, I can imagine myself being alternately terrified and thrilled with such an adventure. Sometimes both at the same time. I think Cruise is being very smart taking these over-the-top roles in the face of the bad press he has gotten for being over-the-top himself. Personally I don't know what all the hullabaloo is about. Christian Bale and Mel Gibson among others have behaved much worse and not gotten the kind of negative reception Cruise has. I guess in America it's okay to treat people monstrously, just not to act foolishly.

  15. Russ says:

    Wait... their characters' last names aren't "Knight" and "Day"?

    I assumed they were from the trailers. Guess the title doesn't make sense to me either.

    Might see this.

  16. Lynn Destefano says:

    I thought that because they were as differenct as "night and Day" but spelled it Knight because that was Millers real last name or the 'day' could have something to do with "some day" they kept talking about.

  17. d jones says:

    His name is Matthew Knight in the movie. He tells her his name is Roy Miller. His parent"s mailbox says Knight.

  18. Fabled1 says:

    No one who's ever gone through years of Studio rewrites would EVER refer to any film conceit as 'lazy writing.' Lazy Executives is far more appropriate. Trust me on this, writers do not have the influence or the ability to sway a 'brilliant' Executive, Producer, Director or Actor from any horrible idea, bit of dialogue, etc. if said non-writers are set on injecting it into the script. Unless you want to be fired or replaced, you try to sculpt around the so-called brilliance of those who never sit for months behind the computer in order to fashion a story with some semblance of integrity. In general it's a miracle that anything worthwhile ever comes out of a Studio sausage factory. To so flippantly refer to 'lazy writing' only reveals that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Stick to reviews.

  19. Olivia says:

    His name IS Knight! His 'spy name' is Roy Miller. If you pay attention to the older couple in the film, you'll learn that.

    It's a fun film, I plan to see it again.

  20. Eric D. Snider says:

    Yes, yes, his real last name is Knight. I am aware of this. That would be a good reason for the film to be called "Knight," or perhaps "Secret Knight," or "Knight aka Miller." How do you get "Knight and Day"? Because he also talks about "someday" he'll do something? That would be a good reason to call it "Knight and Someday." Well, not a good reason, but at least a logical reason. Are y'all trying to tell me "Knight and Day" makes perfect sense as a title because it's his last name, followed by the word "and" and the second half of a word he often says? AH, OF COURSE, I WAS BLIND NOT TO SEE THIS.

  21. Suzette Myers says:

    This reviewer couldn't even figure out the title of the movie! Crass slurs against the writers and the principal are petty and intentional distractions from a bad review.

  22. Yvette says:

    Eric, you had me ROLLING on the floor laughing with your response on the title. They just picked two random words that pop up once or twice in the movie and made that the title just because it sounds somewhat catchy. I agree with you--stupid title, doesn't make sense. More laziness.

    But overall I liked the movie. It was fun.

  23. Hugo says:

    Knight means her was normal the night before he become a knight, and day means today he is not normal, get it

  24. Jockster says:

    It's a great film ., tons of laughs., and Cruiese and Diaz shine., great job., go see it., very funny., !!!!

  25. Al says:

    Guys knight is a bad pun and just means they're opposites it's not that complicated.

  26. Jacob says:

    The Spanish for "days" is "dias". I'm just saying . . .

  27. Honrad says:

    The film distributors in Spain have not discussed what Knight means and have used a simple solution. The title has been translated into Spanish for "Noche & Día" (Night & Day). The trouble is that those who are not very good at English spelling will lead them to confusion.

  28. Jason Taylor says:

    I think they used that title because people want to see tom cruse in a knight outfit on a horse.

    My thoughts: can't have a ditz also be a mechanic and good driver.

  29. Alexa says:

    Knight refers to Tom cruise's character's last name. Day to that of diaz's character. Cmon people

  30. Eric D. Snider says:

    Knight refers to Tom cruise's character's last name. Day to that of diaz's character. Cmon people

    Except for Diaz's character not being named Day, that's a fine explanation.

  31. Michaelle says:

    The title is like a metaphor. Night and Day being opposites Tom being night and Diaz being day. But the spelling for night was changed to spell his real last name, Knight. In the end they fall in love so its kinda a metaphor for opposites attract. Not difficult if you think about it.

  32. Joseph says:

    No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

    The title is because it's about power - electricity - and the obfuscation in International patent laws that were the sole reason for the invasion of Afghanistan.

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