Table of contents

Knight & Day 1

On love of action & beautiful actors

Tom Cruise is some kind of spy, or secret agent. His designs are unclear, but it gradually emerges he is in control of a highly volatile situation. As people start violently dying, a plane crashes, & a highway chase smashes about a dozen cars, we struggle to catch up to the action.

We see through the woman’s eyes: Like her, we are peaceful; unlike the hero, we are civilians. The obscurity of plot suggests our remove from action & men; the way our hero treats the woman suggests movies have to lie to us, to brighten very dark designs; we would otherwise be too scared to function properly. – Action with pleasure means here imitation of action; hence the woman in the story. Tom Cruise apparently planned everything he can plan, which shows the confidence necessary for action, always tied up with purpose. It is this purpose which is concealed.

Acting is on display in this story. Some dislike Tom Cruise’s conceit or boastfulness. But acting is tied up with the actor’s reputation. He is Tom Cruise, he wouldn’t be in front of us otherwise, nor would we be there to see him. We look up to him & he knows it. Man looks unusually large on screen, but usually deformed. Not so Tom Cruise.

He looks beautiful. His beauty is his gift to us. Even democrats recognize the easy charm of the successful. What is memorable, why some stories survive, & how they move us – we must start there. Besides, the story is humorous & it pleases.

The woman cannot distinguish between good & bad. The hero insists on this difference. He defends the good. We take it on faith when Tom Cruise says it, as does she. He is Tom Cruise, after all. – This crisis is strangely connected to another: She cannot love her life. Abandoning convention is an option, but requires daring. The origin of her trouble is obvious: Her father wanted boys & taught her to be a mechanic. She gives her sister a muscle car for her wedding, who wants to sell it for a house.

Cameron Diaz is beautiful, loveable. She dares to get in the hero’s way. She lacks manly powers, but competes nevertheless. Now Tom Cruise had better know she is worth saving, because she has become dangerous. Accordingly, if she is worth saving, she becomes his primary good. What life is worth living? – She finds out by what she’s willing to risk, he by what he’s willing to protect. He stops following orders; he reaches beyond the law & its ultimate restraints. This homeless orphan is finally free to choose a life for himself – anyway, secret agents are notoriously given to treason.

The romantic comedy of 2010. Warmly recommended.