© 2010 Ray Wong
Tom Cruise + Cameron Diaz + action + romance = Box office smash. Right? I guess that remains to be seen, but as far as the movie is concerned, it's hit or miss.
June Havens (Cameron Diaz) is on her way from Wichita back to Boston to attend her baby sister's wedding. She also has a suitcase-full of auto parts because she wants to fix her father's GTO as a wedding gift to her sister. At the airport, she bumps into a handsome fellow named Roy (Tom Cruise). Somehow they get onto the same flight and that's when things turn weird. It happens that Roy is a secret agent and he kills everyone on the plane and crash-lands it.
June wakes up the next day in her Boston apartment. Just as she thinks she's had the weirdest dream, she realizes everything that happened was real and she's in imminent danger. Roy comes to the rescue and coerces June to follow him if she wants to survive. He also tells her he's been framed for something he didn't do, and he is on a mission to protect someone (and something -- I won't reveal it here) and prove his innocence. Reluctantly June agrees to go along. Soon, she finds herself deeply involved in Roy's dangerous mission and also falling for him, without knowing whether she can actually trust him or not.
Tom Cruise (Valkyrie) returns to his root by playing a dashing, cocky, wild character that he was famous for (Top Gun, Risky Business, Cocktail, Jerry McGuire). Here, he's milking every ounce of his star power, including his trademarked toothy grin. Mostly, he succeeds. Despite how you feel about the actor's personal life, Cruise is still one of Hollywood's biggest stars and his charisma is undeniable. He's at his best when he's playing Cruise-like characters and tries not to "disappear" in a role.
Cameron Diaz (My Sister's Keeper) also taps into her strength by playing a naive, klutzy, sweet but "more capable than you think" damsel in distress (Charlie's Angels, My Best Friend's Wedding). Her chirpy voice can be grating at times, but she manages to create a highly likable character despite her neurosis. She and Cruise have worked together (in Vanilla Sky) and they've succeeded in recreating that chemistry and sexual energy.
Peter Sarsgaad (Orphan) plays Roy's ex-partner and one of the movie's villains. We're set up to know he's the bad guy from the get-go so there's not much else he can do. His smarmy grin and swagger are stereotypical of that type of characters and mostly he's just another side character. Jordi Molla (Inconceivable), as a spanish arms dealer, is another villain/side character with not much to do but act villainy. Viola Davis (State of Play) is fine as Roy's boss and manages to squeeze some dimensionality to the one-sided role. Paul Dano (Taking Woodstock) has a good time playing a nerd/boy genius.
Written by Patrick O'Neill (Dead Last), the screenplay is a cross-genre hodgepodge: romantic comedy, thriller, action-adventure, suspense, spy. It's like James Bond meets When Harry Met Sally. On paper that sounds like great fun. As this is O'Neill's second screenplay (his previous work was an unseen 2001 TV episode), it's no surprise that the execution lacks finesse. The plot is incredibly implausible (even for a James Bond-esque character), starting with the plane. Seriously? Are we supposed to believe that? Then the plot goes from implausible to outright impossible. There are so many plot holes I stop counting by the end of the first act. The twist doesn't work because it's predictable. Everything about the movie screams "implausible" but O'Neill doesn't seem to care.
Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), the production is slick and well made. The locations are gorgeous and the action sequences interesting, albeit… oh, you guess it… implausible. It should have been called Mission Impossible IV instead (oh wait, Cruise is making MI4. May God help us). Given the genre, the execution is quite top-notch and the pacing is good. If they had added dragons and wizards, it'd be so much better.
Now, now, it doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, snarky as I may be. As soon as I put my brain away and realized this was a glossy fantasy not based on any reality, I relaxed into my chair and started to enjoy it. The banter is cute. The dialogue is cheesy but witty. The action is over the top but entertaining. And the stars do have great chemistry together. So what if the plot is ridiculous? It does, in a strange way, make sense even though it is -- I repeat -- implausible. It's a mindless popcorn movie. As long as we don't have too much expectation, it's good for any raining day.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molla, Viola Davis, Paul Dano
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Patrick O'Neill
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action violence, brief strong language
Running Time: 110 minutes
Script – 6
Performance – 7
Direction – 8
Cinematography – 8
Editing – 8
Production – 8
Total – 6.9 out of 10