TWEEDLE DUM AND TWEEDLE
If you've been panting to see a romantic action comedy in which a ditzy blond is dragged through dozens of life-threatening situations by a handsome secret agent while whirling through glitzy European locations, you have, oddly enough, a choice of two such movies, both of which are mildly amusing, and both of whose titles begin with the letter K. I thought the studios had spies who are paid fabulous sums to make sure this sort of duplication doesn't happen. If this is true, I imagine a few heads have already rolled. Movie making is a vicious business.
And these two plots are pretty vicious too. In “Killers,” Katherine Heigl meets and marries Ashton Kutcher, who has told her nothing of his former life as a government assassin. After three years of quiet married life in Atlanta they suddenly discover that the ex-agent has a hefty price on his head, and that all their neighbors are trying to kill him, and the wife too if she gets in the way. Can't you just imagine the kooky, side-splitting situations this lands them in! Everybody has a gun, everybody's a potential homicidal maniac, oh my! And they're all so cute!
Actually there are two great performances in “Killers,” by a pair of old pros. It's nice to have Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara around as the parents of the bride, to show the youngsters how it's done. And the scenes filmed on the French Riviera are very pleasant to look at; unfortunately they take up only about the first third of the movie, and then it's back to the suburbs of Atlanta, which I suppose are about as attractive as you thought they would be, if you ever thought about them.
With the hijinks of “Knight and Day” you're in slightly more polished hands, if that's the phrase I want. In this case, Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise are the Attractive Couple, getting another chance to show off the chemistry they demonstrated a few years back in “Vanilla Sky.” They meet cute at the Wichita airport, where Cruise warns Diaz not to get on a flight to Boston. She does anyway, or there wouldn't be a movie.
They flirt amusingly across the aisle, and while she's in the plane's loo prepping for further amorousness, Tom kills everybody else on the plane, including the crew and the pilots. But never fear, Tom can fly a plane. If, on the other hand, like me, you have recurring nightmares about your flight landing in a corn field, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE.
Apart from that, there are a fair amount of slick, reasonably exciting thrills as Cruise carts Cameron to Austria and Spain in order to keep a thumb-size battery from falling into The Wrong Hands. (“It can power a small city, or a large submarine.”) Unlike the plot of “Killers,” which provided lots of “hey, what just...?” and “wait a minute, weren't they...?” moments, the plot of “Knight and Day” revels in its own incoherence. The most obvious example is a running gag: whenever our couple are in water so hot that there is absolutely no way out, Tom gets Cameron to swallow a drug that knocks her senseless; when she regains consciousness 18 hours later, they're in another situation, and quite likely in a completely different part of the world. It's a clever solution that has the scriptwriter, Patrick O'Neill, poking fun at his own non sequiturs.
“Knight and Day” provides enough non-cerebral entertainment for a summer afternoon when your feeling lazy and just want to murder a few hours, which was the mood I was in when I saw it. The only thing about it that got on my nerves was Tom Cruise, who has gotten on my nerves in just about everything he's ever done. There are other really-high-paid Hollywood actors with a range as limited as his, but not many. Here he spends the entire movie showing off his best feature, which is the adorable smile where his eyes go all crinkly at the corners. I am prepared to bet the farm that he practices it in front of a mirror every day.