Point across: Cruise parodies self in ‘Knight and Day’

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 4, 2010

“Disinformation protocol. They’ll tell you a story about me, about how I’m mentally unstable. Paranoid. Violent and dangerous. And it will sound very convincing.”

Did that line come out of Tom Cruise’s character’s mouth in “Knight and Day,” or was that something he said in a recent interview?

It’s hard to tell with Cruise, but that’s the main reason “Knight and Day,” which releases on DVD this week, works and Cruise’s character Roy Miller is a hilarious parody of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt, and of even Cruise himself. “Knight and Day” cruises along with insanely over-the-top action scenes in this comedy/action/romance, and with Cruise driving, it works perfectly.

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Cruise is Miller, a rogue secret agent on a stop-at-nothing mission to keep a battery-sized, massive energy source out of the wrong hands, and he stars along side Cameron Diaz (as June Havens), who is inadvertently thrust into the middle of this illogical battle. The “zephyr,” as it is called, was created by boy-genius Simon Kent (Paul Dano), and the bad guys — corrupt secret agent Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard) and arms dealer Antonio (Jordi Mollà) — won’t rest until they snag the zephyr, the “first perpetual energy source since the Sun.”

I saw the movie for the first time when it was in theaters, and thought the dead-on action flick spoof scenes were great for the first 45 minutes, from the airplane fight and crash landing that saw Miller and Havens walk away without a scratch, to the car chase scene which included Miller callously leaping from car to car while reassuring Havens it was a perfectly normal thing to do. (Or what about the junkyard fight scene that took place as Hall & Oats’ “Private Eyes” played in the background?) But with a running time of one hour, 50 minutes, it wasn’t quite as sharp the sixth time around. By the end it still worked, just not as well.

Diaz is good, and Haven’s sanity to Miller’s clear insanity is a nice balance. The spark between the two is there (if only briefly), and her character hardens as Cruise’s character softens and the two meet somewhere in the middle by the end. Still, the relationship felt a little underdeveloped; maybe by knocking out an action sequence or two their eventual Cape Horn ending would have been a little more rewarding.

While the film’s storyline is not its strong-point, it’s not supposed to be; there may be a few plot holes, but does that really matter?

If you see it for nothing else, see it for Cruise’s perfect parody of himself.

Adam Harringa is Audience Manager for the Austin Daily Herald and will be reviewing both the big and small screens presentations.