What do you get if you mix a director whose early career was full of promise before it veered spectacularly off course, with two actors whose careers have relied heavily on their looks and who have seemingly gone past their sell-by dates? Not very much if the extremely lacklustre Knight And Day is anything to go by.
Tom Cruise is something of a figure of fun these days, thanks to Oprah's couch, yet it's arguable that on screen he's always delivered the goods. Now however, he has been given his career mission impossible: produce some on-screen chemistry with Cameron Diaz. Cruise plays action man Roy Miller, who bumps into Diaz's June Havens at an airport and plants something in her bag. The two end up as passengers on a "ghost plane" upon which Miller is attacked by, and despatches, a group of mercenaries while Havens is in the toilet.
He kidnaps Havens and they embark on a friendship reminiscent of that between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in Midnight Run, but without the funny lines and endearing conversation. From this moment on, it's best not to ask any logical questions about why events are happening, because director James Mangold dispenses with any sense of logic and replies upon the charm of his actors to paper over the canyon-sized cracks.
It's so badly pieced together that it's hard not to think that some major plot points have been left on the cutting room floor. In addition, Mangold doesn't even bother to try to sell Cruise and Diaz as a couple and the lack of perspective makes it hard to believe that this is the same man who helmed Walk the Line, Cop Land and Girl,Interrupted. Mangold has no grasp of the genre or of the fact that when you kick off a movie with a plane crash, it pays to up the ante on each subsequent action sequence.
Then there is the bizarre choice to have a montage sequence which shows Cruise and Diaz in the aftermath of several explosions; the director, who tries to play these moments for laughs, clearly doesn't believe in the screenwriting adage that it's better to show something on screen then try to describe it. Mangold tries to set up a suggestion that Cruise could be a rogue agent, but while he's charming and saving Diaz, his counterpart played by Peter Sarsgaard is so menacing and glum that there is no disputing who we are supposed to be cheering for.
Diaz just runs through the motions of dumb blonde damsels in distress throughout the film and it soon grows tiresome. Actually it grew tiresome about three movies ago. The result is that caring for Havens or Miller is impossible, even when she visits Miller's family and finds out some dark secrets from his past. There were apparently eight screenwriters who worked on the project, but it's definitely a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth in this charmless comedy thriller.