Knight And Day | 2010
With predictably cute star casting banishing any sense of underlying danger, this potentially enjoyable comedy thriller veers too close to romcom territory.
Classics of the genre such as North By Northwest and Charade manage a light touch while still keeping us guessing about lead characters, but Tom Cruise is too much of a brand name for us ever to worry he might be a lethal renegade (definitely no spoiler there).
The film opens supposedly in ‘Kansas’, where Roy Miller (Cruise) contrives to bump into car restorer June Havens (Cameron Diaz) at ‘Wichita Airport’. In fact, much of the production was based in Boston, and the airport is Worcester Regional Airport, 375 Airport Drive in Worcester, about 45 miles west of the city.
After taking out the passengers and crew, Miller manages to land the plane in a cornfield on the land of Cumberland Farms, Curve Street just southeast of Bridgewater, about 30 miles south of Boston.
June gets a series of cryptic warnings from Miller before being drugged and waking up in her own home, at 16 Belmont Street, just north of Bunker Hill Street, in Boston’s Charlestown district.
Barely fazed, she reassures her clingy ex, Rodney (Marc Blucas), before heading off to work at the family business, ‘Havens Classic Auto’, just north across the Tobin Memorial Bridge at 52 Broadway, in Chelsea. This is a popular stretch of road for filmmakers. A few yards down the road beneath the bridge, you’ll find the house of the hacker Glen from Transformers; opposite is the bachelor apartment rented by Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed party-bear Ted; while around the corner Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) visits his girlfriend in Robert Luketic’s 21.
As Miller predicted, it’s not long before June receives a visit from those sinister folk from ‘the agency’ and invited for a ride. She’s whisked across the stylish new (2003) Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge on the way to a less-than-reassuring ‘someplace safe’ when Roy commandeers the car, leading to a frenetic chase on I-93, through the Ted Williams Tunnel, and the Fells Connector Parkways.
Escaping the car, June hops on a bus travelling along Northern Avenue in the Seaport District, only to find Roy still in pursuit.
When she takes her ex for a quiet chat at Gaslight Brasserie, 560 Harrison Avenue, South End, June is exasperated to find herself abducted at gunpoint by the disarmingly charming Miller. The brasserie, by the way, is another location seen in Ted.
As he drives her through the night, Roy gets a chance to explain the film’s MacGuffin, an inexhaustible battery called Zephyr, invented by young whizzkid Simon Feck (Paul Dano), whom they’re on their way to Brooklyn to protect.
He’s supposedly holed up somewhere at the foot of the ‘Brooklyn Bridge ’ – but this is faked digitally – and when the warehouse is raided, it’s time for June to experience another bout of unconsciousness, waking up on a tropical beach ‘off the grid’. The glorious beach is in Jamaica, which left the country just a little bit miffed as it’s about the only location not to get a name-check on-screen.
So to make up, Miller’s exotic retreat is Frenchman’s Cove Beach, a couple of miles east of San Antonio on the island’s northeast coast. Obviously a favourite spot for Tom Cruise, It’s alongside Dragon Bay that he ran the beach bar in 1988’s Cocktail.
The view of the island is Pellew Island, also known as Monkey Island (after the colony of monkeys allowed to roam freely by the former inhabitants of the nearby Folly Ruins), just offshore, which boasts a walking trail, sandy beaches, a diving platform and spectacular views of the main coast. During low tide it’s possible to wade out to the island, if you’re careful to avoid sea urchins resting in the sand. Unbelievably, there a rumours of a plan to develop holiday villas on this so-far unspoiled spot.
Once June uses her cellphone, the island’s security is compromised and they’re found by the other bad guys (the ones even worse than the agency) and, after another lapse into unconsciousness (yes, this running gag does get a bit irritating – it feels like lazy scripting to paper over the gaps), June wakes up on a train passing through the Austrian Alps – as you do.
The train arrives at ‘Salzburg’, though the sharp-eyed will notice that a few seconds after the prominent ‘Salzburg Bahnhof’ sign is seen, you can glimpse another more truthful one which reads Sevilla Santa Justa, the main rail station of Seville in southern Spain where the scene is filmed.
The hotel in which June, Roy and Simon stay, really is in Salzburg, but it’s not a hotel. It’s the exterior and foyer of the Haus für Mozart, the Kleines Festspielhaus, Hofstallgasse 1, at Max Reinhardt Square, the concert venue for the Salzburg Festival.
At night, June surreptitiously follows Roy to an assignation with a mysterious woman through the narrow cobbled streets of Linzer Gasse and Platzl. The agency is also on the case and, after a rooftop chase along Giselakai on the north bank of the Salzach River, Roy is shot and falls into the water alongside the Staatsbrucke.
With her adventure apparently over, June manages to make it back to Boston in time for her sister’s wedding, and the reception, which is held in the venerable Jacob Wirth Restaurant, 31-37 Stuart Street, in the heart of the city’s theatre district.
But June is no more convinced than the audience that Roy Miller is really dead and deliberately lets the (really) bad guys know she has the Zephyr. Yes, it’s a bag-over-the-head and another fade to black, this time covering a journey to Seville, established with a shot of the enormous Cathedral of Seville. It’s the third largest church in Europe, after St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s in London (although when calculated by volume – which is how they like to do it in Seville – it’s the largest). The cathedral, which houses the strangely camp tomb of Christopher Columbus, is also featured in Luis Buñuel’s Cet Obscur Objet De Desir.
The Moorish-style hideout of gangleader Antonio (Jordi Mollà) is the Casa de Pilatos, Plaza de Pilatos. The 16th century style (it was built in 1519) might lead you to believe that the claim it’s based on Pontius Pilate’s Jerusalem villa is spurious. This is another location familiar to film buffs, having previously been seen onscreen as ‘Cairo’ in David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence Of Arabia.
Sure enough, Roy Miller turns up in time to grab June and make away on a motorbike through the picturesque backstreets of old Seville, which in this particular year appears to be hosting the Festival of San Fermin, the running of the bulls usually associated with Pamplona.
The bike chase sees the pair scoot into Seville’s famous arena, the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, the oldest bullring in Spain.
And there’s even a stunt involving a bike and a fake bull which was staged in Kendall Alley, Pasadena, a useful little alleyway previously seen in films such as Pulp Fiction.
But the Moorish architecture suddenly gives way to the city’s modern harbour as… hang on? What modern harbour?
And what exactly is that vast ocean liner looking uncannily like the Queen Mary that we’re presumably not supposed to notice in the background?
In fact, this climactic sequence was filmed in Los Angeles, on Golden Shore, at the Queens Way Bridge in the port of Long Beach – with a couple of Seville landmarks digitally added to the skyline.
We stay in southern California for the final scene on a ‘Mexican’ beach as the couple begin their journey south to ‘Cape Horn’. The beach is dependable old Point Dume, near Malibu.
And I still don’t have clue what the title means. Day? What day?