Director James Mangold
Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace, Marc Blucas, Viola Davis, Jordi Molla
Screenplay Patrick O’Neill and about 11 others
From out of development hell, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz play what is essentially a North by Northwest with Diaz in the Cary Grant role and Cruise, well, doing absolutely what he does best. Starting off on an “overbooked” airplane that Roy Miller (Cruise) tried to prevent her from getting onto, June Havens (Diaz) is apparently startled into reality when she sees not only has Cruise killed everyone on board the sparsely populated plane, but it is flying without it’s two pilots, also dead. Roy then crashes the plane into a cornfield and warns June that when they tell her that if they tell her they are trying to make her “safe,” the opposite is true. June is subsequently knocked out with drugged drink. Waking up in her home in Boston, she is then whisked away from a dress fitting with her sister by men who insist on keeping her safe, and then the action really heats up.
First thing is, the explosions in this movie are more than a little annoying. I say this because in a film in which so much attention was placed into many excellent special effects, it is amazing to me that they would just place some obviously computer animated blasts. To what effect? Complaining about this is a bit of a stretch, because at this point, who really cares about explosions.
This movie had several different leads, a couple of different directors, a slew of writers, and, as it turns out, Tom Cruise inserting his “ideas” into the movie. This should be the death knell for a project, and to be fair, it did under perform in the states. The outside world seemed to disagree a bit, and I throw my lot in with them. There really is not much to complain about in this movie. You are kept guessing much of the time, and even when the traditional bad guy emerges, you still want to hang in there to see how it turns out. There are many things about this movie that work, and work well.
Foremost among them is Cruise. The man is a bona fide action star. While most people who make movies like this just want to do a few of their stunts, Cruise is beyond this and really just at another level. His treatment of Diaz’ June is at once sincere and a little creepy, and it has a great effect on the film. He keeps referring to her by her first name, even while bullets fly about. Not everything he tries works, and when it doesn’t, his surprise occupies his mind almost as much as escaping with their lives.
Diaz, for her part, plays it off in an entertainingly loopy fashion. Taking her losses of consciousness with enough alarm that we are convinced it is inconvenient for her, while conveniently allowing for the plot to progress to the next scene. It’s not as routine as it would seem, either. Each instance of waking has a different result. She plays the plot device for all its worth. It does stretch the believability a bit to imagine she could fit at all into the world that she’s been thrust into. But only a little.
The rest of the cast is pretty good. Sarsgaard was a little underused, as the pursuing agent. Davis is pitch perfect as his boss. Paul Dano, as the innocent genius, is one of the most annoying actors I have ever seen, but Mangold manages to push his irritating traits in the right direction.
Most of the credit, outside of Cruise, should go to James Mangold. The director of Copland, 3:10 to Yuma and Walk The Line shows some extreme diversity in tackling a genre completely outside of the range he’s previously attempted. His style is somewhat unpredictable. This is hard to do in the espionage genre. Entertaining without being horrific, or even that deep, the movie is classic popcorn. The result comes across as something that feels organic, even if the process of getting there seems typical Hollywood.
(**** out of *****)