There comes a point where you just feel tired while watching a movie. Not physically if the movie has any merit, but drained of energy when the film itself simply stops outputting any. You stop being involved in the action because the mountain of implausible physics-driven car chases are grating on the senses. You stop being involved because the lack of thrills actually leads a chase sequence through a bullfighting ring. You also stop being involved because you just don’t care anymore, and it’s hard to even care from the start of Knight and Day.
To be blunt, the special effects here are tragic. Every green screen is blatant, made more so as Tom Cruise apparently institutes an auto-drive mechanism in his car. He literally looks at Cameron Diaz in the passenger seat for a solid 15 seconds while the car speeds along at 55 without veering an inch off course. We know he can shoot, taking out an entire plane of mysterious enemies searching for an elusive battery that generates infinite energy. We know he can drive, or even cling to the roof of a car as it barrels down the freeway. He’s one of “those” action movie characters who can do it all, but short of using the force or having an unseen third eye, driving while not looking is a bit much.
Assuming for a brief second the action brought with it some intensity or legitimate fun, that still leaves this script, written by first-time screenwriter Patrick O’Neill, out there on its own. Every contrivance this genre has, including the abomination that is the Ashton Kutcher/Katherine Heigel mash-up Killers, is here. One-liners under duress? Check. Pitiful aiming from the bad guys? You know it. The scene where the average person drug into all this comes to the realization this is all happening and jumps on board irregardless of the fact that her character is never built for anything of the sort? Triple check.
Knight and Day isn’t fun, it’s just stupid. Every ounce of it is terrible, baffling considering the skills within the project, from Cruise and Diaz to the capable director James Mangold (Walk the Line). There’s also a budget of $100 million to work with, most of that surely going into Cruise’s pockets as he flaunts his muscular body, slowly walking out of the ocean with some gigantic caught fish in the movie’s “look at my ego” scene.
The script seems to be playing a similar game, the “look at how predictable I am!” challenge. The attempt to dissuade the audience away from Cruise’s character is so heavy-handed, no experienced movie-goer would fall for it, and besides, most people would be physically tired by that point anyway.
Fox’s AVC encode is typically sufficient for the material, the latter given that familiar orange tint that makes everyone look like they forgot the sunscreen. Elevation of other hues, from the thick greens on the islands to the bright blues of the water, simply create pleasing elements within the image.
Black levels add to the transfer’s eye candy, holding firm for nearly the entire film, faltering during a dinner sequence around 1:07:00. It’s the only time this transfer loses full control of established depth and clean shadow detail. Textures elsewhere can be immense, if not always consistent. Late, once the film moves into Spain, the environments are impressive. Intricate detailing on the walls or carved into the concrete, even at some distance, are flawless. There are no signs of shimmering or aliasing here.
Likewise, this holds true in close, facial detail exquisite and tightly defined. Some of the initial close-ups of Cruise, the first at 1:12, set a standard this disc has no trouble living up to… most of the time. Cameron Diaz seems to have that aggravating digital smoothing applied sparingly, the worst of it at the end of the movie at 1:42:56 where the skin complexion is off, and muddy skin texture is a distraction. The sharpness remains firm. Things such as hair and clothing is great.
There are a few spots where the encode tends to falter too, appearing overly noisy during a few grain spikes, and other times where the artifacting just chooses to reveal itself. Inside the hospital at 1:39:18, the walls are awash with digital remnants, and the encode can’t handle the smoke after a room is entered by the FBI at 1:19:54. The encode, for whatever reason, just can’t get a hold on the very minimal film grain. There are some sporadic instances of haloing along high contrast edges too, the worst as Cruise sits on the bed at 1:12:11, along his arm.
Somewhere, there’s a great audio mix looking to come out of this DTS-HD effort, but without the intense bass punch that it should have, it won’t reach those lofty goals. At an early point of the film, a plane crash lands in the middle of the field, the overhead camera pass producing no jolt from the engines, and the impact softened as it careens across the open plain. The surround use is superb, objects scattering about the cabin and dirt kicked up onto the windshield with great effectiveness.
Everything follows this trend, a car chase around 27-minutes featuring vehicles flipping around that barely register in the sub, but the fantastic directional tracking, score bleed, and bullet fire are all exceptionally spectacular. In fact, the only highlight for those looking to enjoy their equipment comes as the island is assaulted by bombs a 55:30, each hitting the ground with a marginal thud, at least enough of one to produce a mild rumble.
The score remains prominent within the mix, heavy action never overshadowing its presence, and the balance is spot-on. There are certainly many scenes where there is a lot going on, and subtle things as well. The echo inside the warehouse at 44-minutes is really effective, and the shoot-out that soon follows after is probably the highlight of the movie, even without some bass accompaniment from any of the guns.
This review is based on a rental exclusive since Fox does not send out screeners prior to release dates. It contains no extras. Should a retail version be obtained, this review will be updated.