One of the most curious experiments of the summer is Tom Cruise's "Knight & Day." James Mangold's film about a rogue CIA agent (Cruise) and his vigilante globetrotting experiences with a pretty innocent (Cameron Diaz) is in many ways a bold release, not only because it doesn't have that pre-sold thing so many Hollywood films go with these days (it was a creation of Mangold and a host of big-name Hollywood writers; more on Mangold and that process shortly) but because it's such an unusual mix of genres, moving from action thriller to romance to screwball comedy to missing-son drama.
Mangold’s film, while potentially satisfying for filmgoers in an environment of one-note summer entertainments, is the kind of movie that creates a challenge for marketing executives. To emphasize one element is to risk alienating people who’d be drawn to the other, and Fox, like any studio releasing a film like this, finds itself caught between going hard after one constituency and trying to offer something for everyone. (A series of television spots – Fox has bought large chunks of airtime over the last several weeks – has alternated between comedy and action emphases.)
And that's to say nothing of Tom Cruise's box-office stock and where it sits in this post-Valkyrie (but pre-"MI: IV") world. Summer isn't usually the time for drama on the big screen, but it's shaping up to be a dramatic time for some of the people behind it.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in '"Knight & Day." Credit: 20th Century Fox