Thursday, July 8, 2010
Knight and Day -- protecting our lives, discovering our desires
Director: James Mangold, 2010. (PG-13)
At 48 and 38 respectively, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are hardly young pups. On paper they are too old for an action comedy-thriller. Most of us in this age-bracket are happy to be able to get out of bed in the morning without joint pain. Here Cruise leaps across roofs, jumps out of planes, and races amongst bulls on a motorcycle.
Cruise is Roy Miller, an agent on the run. Like Jason Bourne, he is a trained killer and can get out of most situations. Like Bourne, his own country is after him, sending assassins to kill him. Diaz is June Havens, a single woman who restores vintage cars. He can handle killers; she can handle carburettors. She has nothing to do with the CIA or FBI until Miller briefly bumps into her in an airport. She immediately comes into the microscopic glare of those trailing Miller. An unlikely pair.
Panned by many, this is one of the brighter of this summer's movies. It certainly appeals more to the older generation, who remember Cruise when he was one of the young guns, such as in Top Gun. Cruise and Diaz have wonderful chemistry together. Both adopt a tongue-in-cheek style and underplay their characters. And it works. Cruise delivers his dialog deadpan to give the film sharp comic relief. For example, in an early scene where Cruise kills the assassins on the plane. He tells June but she does not believe him. But when she sees the cockpit door ajar, she cries out, "The pilots are dead!" Roy: "Yeah, they've been shot." June: "By who?" Roy: "By me. No, actually, I shot the first pilot then he accidentally shot the second pilot. It's just one of those things."
Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) brings understated direction to this film and allows it to come across as a campy Bond-like spy thriller. Moving across continents as Bond does, Roy and June team up to save a scientist while evading both the bad guys and the good guys. The speed of the film and the fun it generates are enough to keep our disbelief in suspension. That is necessary because there are more plotholes than potholes in a Portland road. But we can overlook them because we want to see Roy and June succeed.
The title of the film points to the first major theme: knight. Roy buys a metallic knight figurine in the airport. But he himself is in reality the knight, a white knight. He is a good-hearted protector. Even when he has to shoot an innocent civilian, he makes it a clean shot and stops to make sure he is OK. As June discovers, he wants to protect her. In one scene, she tells a crime boss, "Where there's a bad guy Roy is near."
If truth be told, we all deeply want a protector, a knight in shining armor who can ride up to save us when the chips are down.We may not bump into Roy, or a real-life version. But we can bump into Jesus, a real protector. He is a true knight,"who gave himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Tim. 2:6). Indeed, God "has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves" (Col. 1:13). When bad guys are near, Jesus is close by. He is even nearer than Roy, for Jesus lives with us, in us (Gal. 2:20). He has promised never to leave or forsake us (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). That is the kind of white knight I want!
Speaking of truth being told, in one scene toward the end the crime boss injects truth serum into June seeking information he believes she has. He does not get what he wants, but she gets something she was not ready for, but needed. This truth serum allowed her to speak the truth to him, and unwittingly to herself. It unlocked the subconscious doors for her to see herself and her true desires.
Jesus promised the truth would set us free (Jn. 8:32), and it does. But we do not need a truth serum injection to discover our desires. If we take time to meditate and pray to God, he will let us see our desires. More than this, though, he gives us a promise: "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psa. 37:4). By moving beyond the self-deceptions that create a cozy but sheltered life, we can allow the truth to bring us face-to-face with our dreams and desires. And if God is central to our life and our heart is with him, he will make these desires real. It may be uncomfortable, as it was for June. It may be a challenging and stretching, but it will be worth it. Because we will be living in the vibrant reality that God wants for us.
Copyright ©2010, Martin Baggs
at 7:00 AM