Monday, June 28, 2010

How KNIGHT AND DAY Shoulda Ended...

Dear James Mangold,

You're welcome. This past weekend I got my butt off the couch and relocated to a movie theater where I saw your latest film, Knight and Day. I use the term "film" very loosely as it looked more like a made-for-TV movie...and not the HBO kind.

I'm going to go ahead and give you a spoiler alert, James. I'd like to talk in length about some plot points in your movie. You may be saying to yourself, "I directed this movie. Why would I need a spoiler alert?"

You see, I have my doubts that you actually made it to the end of your own movie, James.

In the first act, super-spy Ethan Hunt Tom Cruise runs into super-cutie Cameron Diaz at an airport. They exchange romantic-comedy dialogue and accidentally get on the same flight. It's an accident because Cameron wasn't supposed to be on the plane populated entirely by CIA hitmen and hitladies. Apparently, Tom stole a super-awesome battery that could run an entire city for a month or something. Someone in the CIA wants to sell it into the wrong hands, so Tom decided he would protect it with his perfectly manicured hands.

I want to pause here, James, and point out that I've rewritten that last paragraph about seven different times. I can't remember what parts of the setup are actually paid off in the conclusion. This is a bad sign, James.

Mid-flight, Cameron spills tequila on herself and takes an incredibly long bathroom break. Her bathroom break is so long, it gives Tommy Boy ample time to kill every mercenary on the flight. Just out of curiosity, James, how many times on set did you spill tequila on yourself and need an incredibly long bathroom break?

That was a rhetorical question. I'm really afraid of the answer.

You see, movies don't direct themselves, James. Just like planes need pilots, movies need direc...



I forgot that you're a strong believer in autopilot. Judging by the scene in which Tom kills both pilots on the mercenary-filled flight, then manages to make two cocktails, make out with Cameron, and not experience the slightest shimmy of turbulence.

I realize I'm being nitpicky here. But you have no idea how many times I rolled my eyes in your movie, James. After the plane sequence, the movie quickly devolves into Cameron being drugged and dragged around the globe while Tom does all kinds of Jason Bourne-esque tricks. Somewhere along the way Cameron falls in love with this psycho...though I didn't really understand why, nor did I care.

A few years ago you directed a little John Cusack thriller called Identity. I really enjoyed that film (don't fault me for it, I was in film school at the time and didn't know the difference between Roger Avary's Rules of Attraction and Shinola). I loved that big twist at the end...where we find out that all the characters are merely split personalities of the same psychotic serial killer.

Knight and Day really needed a similar twist to make the "story" work. Here's what I was thinking...

Keep the movie exactly the way it is. Super-awesome battery stays. Cheesy romantic comedy dialogue remains intact. Confusing CIA story lines stick around. Paul Dano can even keep his "pre-pubescent" mustache (it looks about as believable as the CGI bulls that chase Tom and Cameron on a motorbike).

The movie ends, but instead of rolling the credits, we cut back to Cameron on the flight to Boston. She takes another shot of tequila as she turns the final page in her Harlequin romance novel (aptly titled Knight and Day). I really feel that twist would've brought all sorts of credibility to your crazy movie, James. But then again, I'm not the one getting paid to write screenplays or direct films, am I?

I'd continue to rip on your movie, but I've already taken up enough of your time. Not a full two hours and ten minutes like you took from me this past weekend...but I guess I gave it up willingly. And that's no one's fault but my own.

In closing, I will admit that the one upside to Knight and Day is I won't get you confused with Taylor Hackford anymore, James. Well played.


Will Sherrod

1 comment:

Simon said...

That ending would, indeed, have rocked.