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Knight and Day: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Review

Knight and Day (2010) movie poster Knight and Day

Theatrical Release: June 23, 2010 / Running Time: 109 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: James Mangold / Writer: Patrick O'Neill

Cast: Tom Cruise (Roy Miller), Cameron Diaz (June Havens), Peter Sarsgaard (Fitzgerald), Viola Davis (Director George), Jordi Mollΰ (Antonio Quintana), Paul Dano (Simon Feck), Maggie Grace (April Havens), Marc Blucas (Rodney), Celia Weston (Molly Jenkins), Dale Dye (Frank Jenkins), Falk Hentschel (Bernhard), Marc Blucas (Rodney), Lennie Loftin (Braces), Rich Manley (Danny), Gal Gadot (Naomi), Jack A. O'Connell (Wilmer)

Buy Knight and Day from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy • DVD • Blu-ray + DVD Holiday Combo


and Aaron Wallace

One of the biggest draws in Hollywood not long ago, Tom Cruise had his star power put to the test this summer. In between the much-buzzed sequels Toy Story 3 and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the big budget action comedy romance movie Knight and Day opened more on the names of Cruise and leading lady Cameron Diaz than a really distinctive concept. It ended up grossing $76 million domestically, quite shy of expectations and of the $100 million mark Cruise used to regularly surpass.
By comparison, Grown Ups, the comedy starring Adam Sandler and his 1990s "Saturday Night Live" castmates, opened the same week and earned twice as much in North America.

Any film that can be classified as action, comedy, and romance provides a very clear set of expectations, which Knight and Day squarely meets. There are bound to be guns, a sense of humor, and male-female attraction. Supplying all of those doesn't leave a lot of room for anything else, like real surprises, heart, humanity, or even a title explanation, ingredients Knight doesn't mind lacking.

The film opens in the Wichita Airport, where Roy Miller (Cruise) bumps into June Havens (Diaz) multiple times. They've got tickets for the same Boston-bound flight, and though it looks like she might not get on it, she ultimately does. It is no ordinary flight. While she is fixing herself up in the bathroom, he kills everyone onboard, including both pilots. He's no crazed menace, but a good guy. They were attacking him, you see. Well, most of them. Amidst landing the plane in a corn field and then detonating it, Roy explains that he is some kind of covert agent, on the run from various groups of dangerous people.

The MacGuffin of this piece is the Zephyr, a perpetual battery. Roy has to protect it and the strange young genius who invented it (Paul Dano) from what he claims are false federal agents (led by Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis) and the forces of an illegal arms dealer (Jordi Mollΰ). There are close calls and narrow escapes, car chases and train rides, exotic locations and the type of spats that suggest Roy and June have good chemistry.

"Knight and Day" stars Tom Cruise as secret agent Roy Miller, whose car-top heroics are just a taste of the danger heading towards June Havens (Cameron Diaz).

That last bit isn't too easy to buy and it seems very clear who is responsible for that. It's not Tom Cruise. He proves he still has "it", exuding a confident charm that makes you forget about the strange things he's said and done partly out of allegiance to a religion many consider a cult. Cruise doesn't show his age; he's missing the boyish look of his earliest work, but shows minimal change from the days of his early '90s blockbusters. He also hasn't been hit with middle-aged spread, a fact he proudly displays in multiple shirtless scenes.

Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, has never really had "it" to lose. She has specialized in playing the vacuous blonde and she does that again here without any awareness or irony. She's just supposed to be an average single gal, with an old car parts business. You won't believe that, nor will you believe her reaction to the remarkable high-octane world she suddenly finds herself thrown into. Incredulousness is her one emotion throughout and she doesn't supply it convincingly. It's one thing for her to trade barbs with Ashton Kutcher, but in reuniting with her Vanilla Sky co-star, you have a tough time swallowing that the cool, calm, easygoing superspy sees anything special in his vapid new companion in derring-do.

While that only weakens the romance (probably the least important of the film's three genres), the action and comedy have their own not unrelated problems. The action hinges on the idea that we don't know if Roy is really a good guy or a deceitful rogue agent. Maybe in something that wasn't a widely-released PG-13 summer popcorn flick, there would be some uncertainty. Not here. We're merely waiting for name-clearing reveals and that doesn't do much for suspense, which is already low because we suspect harmless grazing and "flesh wounds" will be the preposterous extent of harm inflicted on our leads in the insane parade of assassin bullets. The comedy largely flounders because while cracking jokes in the face of death can amuse, something dies in the delivery from Cruise to Diaz and the material just isn't all that fresh or funny to begin with.

Based on Roy's information, agent Fitzgerald's (Peter Sarsgaard) promises to keep June safe and secure are viewed as warning signs. Roy (Tom Cruise) and June (Cameron Diaz) suddenly have reason to doubt the protection afforded by his small secluded tropical island.

In spite of its problems, Knight and Day isn't something that most will qualify as a memorably bad time. With its random European locations and lovers' banter, it feels like a throwback to something Hitchcockian like Stanley Donen's Charade. While, Diaz of course is no Audrey Hepburn, it's not sacrilege to say Cruise has more range and less age than Cary Grant. Perhaps forty-five years from now, people will appreciate Knight and Day as an old-fashioned diversion.
For the time being, though, it plays only as routine big-name fare, something less than what you would expect from director James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Identity).

Foreign moviegoers stepped up to make Knight and Day less of a flop than the American numbers indicate. Overseas admissions accounted for over 70% of the film's $261 million worldwide gross, a respectable number that equals or bests many of Cruise's less actiony hits, at least when substantial inflation is disregarded.

Following its positioning in the prime summer movie season, Knight and Day came to home video at the height of holiday retail traffic, on the last day of November. Giving it treatment they typically reserve for their family films, Fox released the movie in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack alongside the standalone DVD. More strangely, a third edition of the film stands between the other two, a "Blu-ray + DVD Holiday Combo Pack" Gift Set that will evidently disappear in the new year. Its ornament banner and corner red bow seem like excess fanfare for what is merely dropping the digital copy disc for a $1 savings. It appears to be one of the all-time great home video oddities and part of me is sad we didn't get that for review instead of the indefinitely available 3-disc combo pack, which we look at here.

Knight and Day Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: DTS-HD 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (Spanish, French)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Three single-sided discs (1 BD-50, 1 DVD-9 & 1 DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue keepcase in Embossed, Reflective Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and
in Blu-ray + DVD Holiday Combo Pack Gift Set ($34.99 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Blu-ray presents Knight and Day in a stellar 1080p/AVC-encoded 2.40:1 widescreen transfer. While the movie isn't as breathtakingly beautiful as the cast and crew swear it is in the featurettes, the film does shine in this expectedly top-notch HD presentation. There's remarkable clarity, plenty of detail, and excellent contrast. Of the mix of light and dark scenes suggested by the title (none of them medieval, I'm afraid), those darker scenes occasionally look soft. It's a minor problem, though, and the source is to blame, not the transfer.

The Blu-ray's English audio track is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and is likewise fantastic. This is an action movie and, accordingly, the surround sound is in full effect. Dialogue, score, gunfire, and explosions are all exceedingly audible and the channel separation is extremely dynamic. There are also Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Spanish and French on the same disc, as well as English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

Similarly, the DVD's 16:9-enhanced presentation gives us nothing to complain about. The picture is clean, sharp, and vibrant, showing off 2010's version of typical big budget studio visuals. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is also satisfactory without surprising. Plenty of effects and musical cues keep you engaged without overpowering dialogue or requiring you to adjust volume levels.

Director James Mangold appears to be having fun directing Cruise and Diaz in "Wilder Knights and Crazier Days." Tom Cruise expresses his appreciation for The Black Eyed Peas in this artistically black and white backstage footage.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Extras on both Blu-ray and DVD begin with "Wilder Knights and Crazier Days" (12:30), a making-of featurette that provides a few general comments before devoting all of its attentions to daring stunts and busy set pieces.

Next up is "Knight and 'Someday': Featuring the Black Eyed Peas and Tom Cruise" (9:09), which is not a music video but a featurette on the creation of the film's closing theme. Cruise and wife Katie Holmes fly to London to meet with the band, with Cruise joining them on stage as they debut "Someday" at an after party, not performing it live but simply playing it on the sound system to approving fans.

On the set of "Knight and Day", Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz demonstrate their superb skill at keeping a computer-generated soccer ball in the air. For your publicity! Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise strike a classic action pose in the DVD's main menu montage.

Two viral videos intended to raise interest in the film upon its release are presented. Both feature Cruise and Cameron Diaz and involve kicking. In the first (1:05), they show off their soccer "skills" hitting a CGI ball with various parts of their body.
The second (1:17) has Diaz practicing a kick stunt. As far as staged promotional gags go, these are strange.

The DVD's extras conclude with Knight and Day's theatrical trailer (2:25), which reflects the original Friday release date from which the movie was moved up two days. Fox might be the only major studio consistently including featured movie's trailers. Good for them. Keep it up!

Four bonus features are only found on the Blu-ray disc, implying that they have some sort of special value, but they're all pretty worthless. First up is "Boston Days and Spanish Knights" (8:10). This is the meatiest exclusive, but it's really just cast and crew talking about how excited they were about getting to paid to travel while making this movie.

Next up is "Knight and Day: Story" (3:50), in which Cruise and Diaz privately talk about how mega-talented the other is. To lend another perspective, director James Mangold appears to sing both their praises at the same time. There are in fact some passing references to the story too. "Knight and Day: Scope" (3:05) is every bit as fluffy, largely rehashing the "shot on location" angle already explored in "Spanish Knights."

Lastly, the "Digital Copy 'How To'" (3:35) provides a great instructional tutorial that will be helpful to those who know enough about technology to own a Blu-ray player but not enough to open up iTunes.

The Blu-ray is also equipped with BD-Live, which includes just one exclusive supplement. "Not Your Regular Spy" (2:42) is almost identical to "Story", only it's even shorter. The amount of time it takes to access and then either download or stream this waste is insulting.

The BD-Live has two other options too. The first is "What's New", which allows you to sample selected bonus features from a long list of other Fox titles, both on Blu-ray and currently in theaters (the title suggests this list will change with time). Finally, "Live Lookup" plays the movie in a window while the rest of the screen literally just connects you to IMDb, where your search is limited to the film's primary cast and crew. I refuse to believe anyone who clearly already has an internet connection would ever choose this as their means of accessing Tom Cruise's filmography.

Previews play automatically upon the Blu-ray disc's start-up for The A-Team, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Street Kings 2: Motor City. The DVD opens with trailers for The A-Team, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Fox TV dramas on DVD. None of these are available from a menu, nor are any others.

With its montage of clichι action shots and bland selection from the public domain-quality score, the DVD and Blu-ray's main menu is actually a pretty good teaser for the film.

The three discs fit into a standard slim blue Blu-ray case. An insert supplies your unique digital copy code and further advertises Money Never Sleeps. The requisite cardboard slipcover loses the film credits text and enlarges rear quotes, but that is the extent of its wonders.

Roy (Tom Cruise) stages a none too threatening (but not entirely nonviolent) hostage situation escape for June (Cameron Diaz).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Knight and Day is slick but predictable product that would have played better with a stronger (though perhaps less famous) lead actress. While it's not a bad time, it's also not funny, exciting, or sexy like it wants to be. Though the movie isn't treated to an extensive collection of extras on either Blu-ray or DVD, both formats provide a delightfully dynamic feature presentation that makes the modest diversion easy to take.

More on the Combo / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy on DVD / Buy DVD + Blu-ray Holiday Gift Pack

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Knight and Day Songs List (in order of use): The Kingsmen - "Louie Louie", Gotan Project - "Santa Maria", Gotan Project - "Santa Maria (Pepe Braddock Remix)", Scorpions - "Rock You Like a Hurricane", Gotan Project - "Diferente", Daryl Hall & John Oates - "Private Eyes", "Dolby's Con", Hot Toothpaste - "Workin' All Night", "An Ass Model Named Lavitka", The Sonics - "Shot Down", "Tales of Old Street Fighters", "La Cancion De San Fermin", Christopher Cross - "Ride Like the Wind", Josι Reyes & Los Reyes - "L'Amour D'un Jour", The Black Eyed Peas - "Someday (Theme from Knight and Day)"

Knight and Day: Original Score Composed by John Powell:
Download from iTunes • Download MP3s from Amazon.com • Buy CD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed December 10, 2010.



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