Tom Cruise's 10 seduction techniques in Knight and Day: a pictorial guide

What would you do if you were to star in a movie and you knew that nobody liked you?

1) First, just before the movie premieres, you appear in a fat suit at an award ceremony to show that you can laugh at yourself.

2) Then, you arrange for the leading lady June Havens (poor Cameron Diaz) to fall in love with you. Make sure she propositions you during a gun fight.

3) You reinvent your brand by wearing Wayfarers (as in Risky Business) and inserting more comedy into your Mission Impossible-esque action scenes.

4) During the course of the movie's True Lies-esque plot, your character "dies" and is resurrected up high on a rooftop in Spain, thereby confirming your ascension to Godlike status.

5) You don't forget to pause amidst all of the gunfire and walk fearlessly (bullets careening all around) to kiss June on the lips when she pouts and feels neglected, because by God this time you care.

6) You make sure that the movie has a proper pseudo-feminist undertone. After watching you effortlessly kill innumerable faceless bad guys in a stress-free PG-13 manner, June becomes empowered by your example.

7) You act "crazy" as a rogue secret agent to show how previous jumping-on-the-sofa/ scientology/criticizing-Brooke Shields hijinks were all in good fun.

8) For the film's MacGuffin, you include a "zephyr"--a self-sustaining battery that would solve all of the world's energy needs, thereby alleviating any worries that audience members may have on that topic.

9) You take off your shirt several times so that June can ogle your toned pecs.

10) Lastly, you include in your movie a cute photo of your real self as an Eagle Scout child so that everyone can say awwww....

In sum, you treat your movie as a public relations campaign--2 hours of grinning, mugging propaganda to win those damn former fans back into the fold, where they belong.


Tracey said…
I haven't seen the film and don't really plan to, but this made me laugh. A LOT.

Great post.
Thanks, Tracey. All I could think of while watching Knight and Day was the desperate way in which Cruise tries to rehabilitate his image. Early on, Diaz walks out of the bathroom on the jet and give him a big kiss, seemingly out of nowhere, without noticing how he had just killed everyone on board. Cruise has his charms, but I don't like being strong-armed into liking him for two hours.
Jason Bellamy said…
Great post. Funny and on the money.
Craig said…
The most dismaying thing about Tom Cruise -- which you captured so well -- is his hyper-self-consciousness: how every element of his life, every action and utterance, seems part of a lifelong publicity stunt, to the point where even the elements that may be authentic come across as false.

Thing is, I think he's often an underrated actor. I thought he was the one who made Rain Man work, while Dustin Hoffman got all the ink and awards. And more recently, he was brilliantly unsettling in Collateral, where his famous smile got contorted into a menacing shark grin. Strong directors (Michael Mann, Paul Brickman, Oliver Stone) have brought some nuances out of his superstar persona. I think he's gotten lost in action-hero roles over the last few years.

I also think he had the right idea (if not the execution) with Knight and Day, which is to do more comedy. Ben Stiller, who has imitated Cruise so unerringly over the years that he may know him better than Cruise knows himself, was astute enough to give him that jarringly great cameo in Tropic Thunder. Building an entire feature film around the Les Grossman character would be, I think, a mistake (with that character, more is definitely less). But this "Hardy Boys as adults" comedy they're planning together may be just the sort of silliness Cruise needs to get his career back on track. Maybe Knight and Day, however unsuccessful, will function as a bridge from one genre to the other.

Very funny piece, FilmDr. Thanks for the laughs.
Thanks, Jason.

Thanks, Craig,

I agree with you about Cruise's work in Rain Man and Collateral. I like his more dastardly roles the most, because then his calculating, manipulative side is all on the surface. Knight and Day suffers from the amount of effort he has to put into being more lovable and approachable. It doesn't come easily to him.

There's also more to be said about Diaz too. She's the one who has to do all of the emoting, reacting, seducing, and freaking in the movie while Cruise is usually too cool to be bothered. I found it poignant to watch her act as if Cruise didn't have all of the baggage, as if she's falling for him the first time (what a weird idea). It's so counter-intuitive. You can even sense the effort ("Look like you both are in love!") in the publicity photos. Diaz, like Cruise, doesn't have a screen persona that is aging particularly well. Her face kept reminding me of a slightly world-weary Tweety Bird.
Richard Bellamy said…
Very funny! You're right - it was all about presenting Tom Cruise - very little about story - which was borrowed from many other movies. I kept thinking of Mr. and Mrs. Smith but it wasn't nearly as entertaining as that one. In fact, I didn't find it very entertaining at all - for many reasons, including too many flippin' flipping cars.
Thanks, Hokahey,

I wish that Cruise would star in a film that had nothing to do with shaping his media image, something more like Magnolia. It's funny how Knight and Day betrays so much insecurity on his part. Perhaps he associates the dubious American public with the CIA in the film thinking that he's gone rogue and crazy. We have betrayed him, but the film posits that there is hope for redemption all around.
sophomorecritic said…
Kind of harsh. I just think about it from Tom Cruise's point of view. Your career is to make movies and no matter what you do, snarky critics like the film doctor are going to make fun of you and say you're a washed-up loser: What are you going to do?

Making an action movie led people to think you were still washed out, so making an action movie but poke some fun at your image. It was his only route at this point and it shows he's smart as usual. For 30 years, Tom Cruise hasn't been the best actor around but he's shown a talent in picking the right material and he did it again.

Considering that you'd dislike him no matter what he did at this point because you're not a fan of him as an actor or as a person, he did a pretty good job and it was a fun film.
Thanks for your thoughts, sophomorecritic.

I know what you mean about the omnipresence of easy snarky criticism. I liked Cruise's work in Magnolia, Collateral, and War of the Worlds, but I dislike the way Cruise micro-manages his image for maximum pop appeal in films like Mission Impossible 3 and Knight and Day. One is not looking at a character so much as a mercenary calculation, and Knight and Day shows a Cruise who appears desperate to be loved, and hence worthy of buying tickets for. If he would just give over his still considerable talents to a good director, and let all of the egotistical star-making machinery go, I would be more willing to celebrate his work.