DVD Release Date:  November 30, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  June 23, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for sequences of action violence throughout and brief strong language)
Genre:  Action/Spy
Run Time:  110 min.
Director:  James Mangold
Actors:  Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molia, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Marc Blucas, Maggie Grace

Once upon a time, Tom Cruise was just like his big-screen alter ego Jerry Maguire: king of the house calls, master of the living room.

In short, everybody loved him, whether he was the cocky pilot in Top Gun, the noble military lawyer who wanted the truth but apparently couldn't handle it in A Few Good Men or spy extraordinaire Ethan Hunt in the successful Mission Impossible franchise. Truth be told, aside from winning the coveted Oscar, Cruise could pretty much do it all while flashing that trademark, toothy smile.

But as any actor worth his/her salt knows, Hollywood is a fickle place, and audiences often bore easily. And around the time Cruise began dating Dawson's Creek alum Katie Holmes and did the whole couch jumping heard ‘round the world on Oprah in 2005, his leading man likeability was seriously called into question. Further revelations about his outspoken commitment to Scientology, not to mention that controversial interview when he called The Today Show host Matt Lauer "glib," certainly didn't help his cause.

While the future may have looked grim for Cruise indefinitely, however, another tenet of showbiz is that everyone loves a comeback after a string of flops (see Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler or Sandra Bullock's one-two punch with The Proposal and The Blind Side after Premonition, Infamous and The Lake House). Earning raves for his foul-mouthed turn as agent Len Grossman in 2008's Tropic Thunder, not to mention the surprising response to the once-panned Valkyrie, Cruise was officially back on the map.

Now, with this summer's light-as-air but still thoroughly enjoyable popcorn flick Knight and Day, Cruise should officially be back in the audience's good graces. After all, this is the Tom Cruise we all like—funny, charismatic and yes, slightly unhinged.

Joining him for the crazy jaunt across the globe is his Vanilla Sky co-star Cameron Diaz, a great casting call since these two happen to have chemistry in droves. Even when things spin spectacularly out of control, which happens, well, regularly in Knight and Day, Cruise and Diaz play off each other perfectly, and the result is fun, feisty and romantic spy adventure that's not short on thrills.

From the get-go, the true intentions of Cruise's character Roy, a government agent who may (or may not) be going rogue, are anybody's guess. After "accidentally" bumping into an ordinary traveler named June (Diaz) not once but twice, Roy and June end up boarding a plane together. Heading back to Boston for her sister's (Maggie Grace) wedding, June has no idea what she's in for (and it's not exactly bridesmaid's duties) when she starts flirting with the handsome stranger.

Deciding to freshen up a little before officially making her move, Roy is busy killing off everyone on board while June gives herself a pep talk, while fixing her hair, in the bathroom. Naturally, once June exits the restroom, she's in for quite a surprise, namely that all her fellow passengers (including the pilot) are all dead. Before she has much time to react, Roy has taken over and is landing the plane in a Kansas cornfield.

Clueless and scared (as anyone in her right mind would be), June isn't quite sure if she's supposed to trust Roy. But as she quickly learns from trying to go it alone, she's got no choice if she wants to stay alive. And from that initial plane ride, everything only gets crazier for June and her knight in not-so-shining armor as they embark on a globe-trotting mission to protect a groundbreaking, supercharged battery and its geeky creator (Paul Dano) from landing in the hands of another maybe bad guy Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard).


As implausible as the story is, and trust me, there are many moments that require a full suspension of disbelief, both Cruise and Diaz have enough charismatic charm and witty banter to keep you fully engaged from start to finish. Be forewarned, though: Like the true meaning of the title itself, Knight and Day is best enjoyed if you don't think too much. But if action/adventure in a slew of exotic settings is what you seek, then Knight and Day is royally entertainment that reminds us why everyone liked Cruise so much in the first place.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Social drinking, plus to protect her from danger, Roy often drugs June, something she's not exactly happy about.
  • Language/Profanity:  As far as summer blockbusters go, the bad language is relatively light. There is one use of the "f" word for dramatic effect, plus a couple of other profanities.
  • Sex/Nudity:  No sex scenes or nudity, just a scene at the beach with June wearing a skimpy bikini that she wonders how she got in—a running joke between her and Roy because he frequently drugs her to keep her from danger and she wakes up in clothing she didn't wear.
  • Violence:  The body count is high in Knight and Day, and people die in a variety of ways including by gunfire, strangulation, explosions and car accidents (most scenes are relatively bloodless). There are nail-biting car chase scenes where the regard for human life is little, and June, a regular civilian until she meets Roy, of course, is in harm's way for the bulk of the movie's running time.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.