Tom Cruise joins Cameron Diaz in director James Mangold’s attempt at an action comedy. Mangold directed 2005’s Walk the Line, which minimized Johnny Cash’s wonderful music, replaced his unique voice, and ignored his prolific drug use, and 2007’s remake of 3:10 to Yuma. He says he wanted to pattern this on two Cary Grant caper films, Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963) and Alfred Hitchock’s North by Northwest (1959).
Alas, both Charade and North by Northwest made sense. There isn’t even one scene in this film that could possibly occur in real life. But this isn’t real life, it’s reel life, so it’s OK so long as it is as entertaining as this is.
Even trying to tell the plot would be a spoiler, so I’m not going to attempt it. Suffice to say that Diaz boards a plane and Cruise is a passenger. From then on, her life spins like a roulette wheel, totally out of control. I thought that the trailer made it look trite. Fortunately, I had to see it and I’m glad I did. Had it been left to my opinion of the film based on the trailer, I would have stayed far away.
Somebody told me that Cruise claimed he did all the stunts himself. I can’t see Tom jumping from the top of one speeding car onto the top of another speeding car, or doing many of the other impossible stunts in the movie, and I certainly can’t imagine an insurance company allowing him to do them.
Cruise and Diaz both give sparkling, star-quality performances and bring the material to life, despite its total lack of credibility, even though writer Patrick O’Neil, who originated this as a spec script, has created a McGuffin of which Hitchcock would be proud.
Mangold keeps the pace moving and the mystery was confounding enough to hold my interest until it’s revealed halfway through. The special effects, mostly involving cars, were interesting, even if Tom was probably represented by a double.
The exceptional talent of Peter Sarsgaard is wasted in role that requires virtually nothing. Paul Dano does a good job as Simon Feck, one of the more appropriately onomatopoeic character’s names I’ve seen in quite a while.
While who Tom is and why he’s acting this way is presented in a captivating way, it is basically his devil-may-care attitude, sparkling smile in the face of certain destruction, and Diaz’s performance that make this worthwhile.
This is a lot of fun, but leave your brain at home.