All over for Tom Cruise as new action comedy flops?

Jun 22, 2010

US critics’ knives are out for Knight and Day, which doesn't even feature the Top Gun actor on its poster

Tom Cruise’s new action comedy Knight and Day is released this week in the US – and judging by the advance reviews in the American papers, it’s a complete turkey and a clear sign that the 48-year-old Top Gun star is no longer box office gold.

So much so that, according to influential gossip blogger Perez Hilton, the studio has designed the film’s poster to hide Cruise’s face from potential audiences.
Cruise plays Roy Miller, who tells a beautiful stranger played by Cameron Diaz that he is a rogue CIA agent, before crash-landing the flight on which they have met, drugging her and triggering a round-the-world adventure. Tipping its hat to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the script has Diaz falling in love with Cruise’s grinning he-man.
Now US critics are queuing up to plant their knives squarely between the shoulder blades of director James Mangold and writer Patrick O’Neill’s $125m movie.

Writing in the New York Post, Lou Lumenick says the “alleged action comedy” with its “faded star” is a “big, dumb summer movie with no apparent ambition” and “an ultra-predictable plot that seems to have been cranked out by a computer screenwriting program without significant human input”.
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune damns Knight and Day’s “galumphing mediocrity”, adding: “The script zags and zigs along, the banter trapped in a wit-free zone”.
At the Seattle Times, Moira Macdonald calls it “a silly, incoherent movie” which she says “feels like a computer-generated assortment of random Hollywood action-movie scenes shuffled together”. As for the female lead: “Poor Diaz, who gamely tries to bring her perky A game, is stuck playing one of the more idiotic characters I've seen on screen lately”.
Even the normally forgiving industry bible Variety joins in the fun, with reviewer Justin Chang bemoaning "a high-energy, low-impact caper-comedy". And many of the reviewers are also critical of the film’s brutality and high body count. The New York Post observes: "I can only assume the film ratings board was lulled into such a stupor watching this movie that they didn't notice this PG-13 movie has a body count far exceeding many that receive R ratings."

But it is Hilton, on his uber-bitchy blog, who makes the case for the movie as a death-knell for Cruise as a bankable Hollywood star. "According to studies," he claims with glorious imprecision, "people don’t actually really like Tom."

Hilton goes on to point out that the movie’s poster, in a stark break from the PR material for previous Cruise vehicles, doesn’t even feature the star’s face. He may have a point – a recent poll named Cruise as Hollywood’s sixth-most overpaid star.

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