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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Knight and Day

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in "Knight and Day."
Adults in search of escapist summer fare will likely be pleased with the good-natured action-and-romance combo "Knight and Day" (Fox). But intermittent stylized violence and a smattering of crude and profane dialogue preclude endorsement for adolescents or younger viewers.

As the female half of the blockbuster couple at the heart of this genre-splicing story, Cameron Diaz plays everyday woman June Havens. Though June is slightly ditzy—in the time-honored Goldie Hawn manner—the opening scene, set in an airport through which she drags a suitcase laden with auto parts, establishes June's knowledge of mechanics in general and classic cars in particular.

Those skills will come in handy after her seemingly random run-in with highly skilled CIA agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), an initially flirtatious encounter that leads June into a bizarre, barely plausible adventure.

Roy, it develops, is on the run from his former colleagues—led by Director George (Viola Davis) and Agent Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard)—after absconding with a new, potentially revolutionary energy source (i.e., a self-sustaining battery) and stashing its young, geeky inventor Simon Feck (Paul Dano) in a remote hideaway.

As Roy battles his erstwhile allies, as well as evil Spanish arms dealer Antonio Quintana (Jordi Molla), who eventually gets thrown into the mix, the bewildered June is left dodging bullets and trying to figure out whether Roy—for whom she rapidly, inevitably falls—is rogue or hero. (Though, really, Cruise's sly smile, undimmed since his "Risky Business" days, should leave her in as little doubt as it does the audience.)

Director and co-writer (with Patrick O'Neill) James Mangold's breezy diversion, meanwhile, ping-pongs from one romantic setting to the next—Salzburg today, Seville tomorrow—showcasing car and motorcycle chases and taking a steady, but largely bloodless, toll on the extras along the way.

A back story concerning Roy's roots deals touchingly with themes of family love and patriotic sacrifice, and the adroitly portrayed, chemistry-rich central relationship progresses, for the most part, innocently enough.

The closest the script comes to anything edgy between the two leads is a recurring joke about an incident in which Roy drugs June to keep her from panicking, then changes her (off-screen) out of her clothes and into a bikini—Roy's Caribbean hideout is one of the aforementioned idyllic backdrops—while she sleeps.

June's appropriately annoyed reaction to this invasion of her privacy only succeeds in drawing another of those trademark grins.

The film contains frequent, though mostly nongraphic, action violence, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word, some crude language and a few instances of sexual humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.




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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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