Tom Cruise’s Knight and Day arrives in theaters today and reviews are all over the place. It’s either a slick, “straight-up fun” piece of adult-targeted summer entertainment, or a little worse than Katherine Heigl’s brutally reviewed Killers (according to A.O. Scott in a pretty hilarious slam). What you’ll think about Knight seems to depend largely on how you feel about staring at Tom Cruise’s smiling, 47-year-old, possibly crazy face in close-up for two hours.
Liked Tom Cruise’s face:
The narrative involves the scramble after a tiny whatzit called “the zephyr,” invented by a young genius (Paul Dano) who only wanted to provide humankind with “the first perpetual energy source since the sun.” Not counting Cruise’s smile.
Jeepers, but their heads are big — Easter Island-statue big! … Eventually the camera pivots so we can appreciate Cruise’s magnified cheekbones, his teeth, his choice in sunglasses … A mere mortal might be reduced to whimpers by such scrutiny. These guys, they just glow.
Actor turned screenwriter Patrick O’Neill should thank his lucky stars — both of them — that Cruise and Diaz signed on for this. They have two of the most infectious grins in the business and their good humor puts this over.
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are as perfect for action movie window dressing as they come. Those dimples, grins and sparkling eyes will distract anyone seeking logic.
Did not like Tom Cruise’s face:
He’s just so irritating, Roy Miller, each subpar quip delivered with a cocksure grin that makes you wish the bad guys were better at hitting back.
Still, we have to look at the guy. And looking at movie stars should be a pleasure, not a chore. Cruise has aged gracefully, damn him: If you’re just measuring wrinkles and all-around droopiness, he really does look pretty OK. But he still has no natural expressiveness. His Go Smile grin seems to be triggered by some elaborate electronic gizmo receiving its signals from a remote control tower; it’s a marvel of mannered spontaneity. Nothing Cruise does seems to come from the inside — every eye crinkle, every grimace, every brow furrow seems plucked from the air, collected from the universe around him and bent to do his bidding.
Throughout, Roy remains sociopathically calm, as Cruise flashes his famous choppers in the midst of torture, flying bullets or somersaulting SUVs on the highway. Cruise has played unbalanced characters before - in Magnolia, Collateral and Tropic Thunder - but the ambiguity here about whether he’s in or out of control is carried on long past all sense, as the body count rises to alarming heights.
We get endless close-ups of Cruise’s grin in a winking performance that seems to be nudging us in the ribs and reminding us roughly every 30 seconds that “Hey, look, I’m spoofing my testosterone-charged persona and my real-life reputation as a guy a few cards short of a full deck.”
Many star-studded blockbusters are all about the abs, but—if we’re to go by the grins that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz flash with shit-eating abandon—this smug and callous action-comedy is about nothing but teeth. The duo’s ear-to-ear smirking is so prevalent in Knight and Day that it quickly becomes a transparent tactic: If the leads appear to be having fun, then the audience will follow suit, regardless of the fact that the movie before them is, to put it mildly, psychotic.