Bullet points

Knight and Day

Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Viola Davis
Directed by James Mangold

Here’s a film with a high bullet quotient, that is it feels like the makers of this film put it together from a list of bullet points, to wit:


• Have Tom Cruise play a character akin to the one he played in the Mission Impossible reboot as a high-tech, high-energy, highly-competent agent (frankly, pretty much any of his filmic characters).

• In the style of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, have the Cruise character get attached to an attractive woman, let’s have her be played by Cameron Diaz, as they bicker and argue and fight and dodge all kinds of nasty villains and their henchmen.

• Make sure that the Cruise and Diaz characters are menaced by many bad guys who fire a hail of bullets and weapons at them but always miss, while the Cruise and Diaz characters are always deadly accurate.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz ridin’ high in Knight and Day.

• Even though the Diaz character is an average person who gets caught up in the frenetic mayhem, make sure that she eventually goes along and even becomes an adroit and athletic agent herself after many hysterical moments of freaking out.

• Make sure the Cruise character is full of charm, swagger and snappy banter so that he can woo the Diaz character and so that the audience will root for him — even though it is not always clear if he is a good or bad guy.

• Add in plenty of hyper-kinetic action scenes involving exotic locales, high-tech gizmos, trains, planes, automobiles, motorcycles, rooftops, cellphones, and charging bulls.

• The bad guys must be creepy, spooky and unstable — preferably foreigners who speak a foreign language.

• The Cruise character must be able to handle any and all situations, from landing a commercial airliner, administering the right amount of drugs to frequently put the Diaz character to sleep for just as long as necessary, gauging the right velocity to launch a motorcycle to jump to safety, to perfectly timing a leap to stop a bullet from hitting a colleague.

• The Diaz character must eventually be able to vanquish baddies by firing a submachine gun from each hand while backward straddling a motorcycle driven at high speed by the Cruise character through the narrow streets of a European city while the baddies fire weapons at them. The bad guys must wait their turn to be dispatched one-by-one by the Cruise character instead of rushing him all together and overpowering him.

• The Diaz character must also be able to steer a car from the back seat against oncoming traffic while being chased by other cars and being fired upon after the other occupant baddies have been dispatched by gunfire.

• The Cruise character must get shot and fall into a river at night from a rooftop so that it appears that he is dead even though his body is never recovered.

• Have the Cruise and Diaz characters be pursued by both the seemingly good guys (all sorts of federal agency types) and bad guys so that they do not know who to trust and believe.

• Make sure the Diaz character mistrusts and struggles with the Cruise character before she falls for him and is star-struck by his machismo and adventurously opulent lifestyle to take her away from her mundane, pedantic existence that she lived before the Cruise character “accidently” bumps into her at the airport.

• Have the whole film be about some high-tech gadget that can change/destroy/fix the world and that no one understands how it works except some geeky scientist guy who can barely tie his own shoes much less take care of himself when the baddies come after him.

• The Cruise character must be victorious, get the girl, expose and waste the bad guys, and retire to some tropical, exotic beach to live a happy yet tranquil life until he is forced to return to action by some future menace presented in a sequel if this film happens to make a mint at the box office.

Doug Young is the talented film reviewer for The Colorado Statesman.