I had the pleasure of watching Knight and Day and the A-Team back to back a couple of days ago. Over the past year I have not been too vocal about my growing dissatisfaction with summer blockbusters and I will admit that I’ve gone to more than a few out of obligation more than anything. For me the big summer blockbusters have been feeling like junk food. You eat it cause it is constantly thrown in you face and you are told that there is no way you can’t love it. This summer though, I have pretty much not gone out to any of the big dumb special effects action riddled movies. Two days ago during my Toronto wanderings (I’m hanging out with the movie bloggers and watching movies while waiting for Fantasia to start in Montreal later in the week) I found myself with an afternoon to kill. I was in the mood to just cool off and not think while watching a movie so I ended buying a ticket to Knight and Day. I had hear Matt talk about liking it on the Cinecast so I figured what the hell and I was pleasantly surprised. I won’t say the story was the most complex thought provoking piece that I watched but it did manage to tell a surprising well thought out tale. While, I was sure that Cruise’s character had to be the good guy I was still unsure more than a few times and I’m not going to say whether he does end up being the good guy or not. I also found myself wondering at a couple of points as to whether Diaz’s character knew more than she was letting on. Both actors perform their roles well and I found myself caring for their safety and whether or not they would actually end up together in the end.
The biggest fault I can find in Knight and Day is its reliance on using CGI in some of the action scenes. I am all for CGI when it is used well but I am completely against movies that use it during action scenes to have someone do something that they are afraid to actually film. One of the reasons why movies like Bullitt and The French Connection are loved is that when the actor (or stuntman) gets behind the wheel they are actually driving. For me seeing a motorcycle sneak between two CGI vehicles just makes me feel like I am being robbed of a real action scene. This brings me to A-Team.
A-Team is bigger and more outrageous than Knight and Day, although not by an extreme amount. Having a CGI tank firing at airplane drones while parachuting from an exploding airplane really didn’t bother me as it was complete silliness by that point. Unfortunately I did not feel the same way when it got to the final showdown with train cars falling off an exploding ship. I’m sure it would have costed billions of dollars to actually film this but it did feel like something I would have wanted to see done with practical effects. This final set piece really felt like a let down and has turned me a bit against the movie somewhat which is a bit of a shame because it actually is a pretty good action flick.
The story never felt as strong as Knight and Day‘s but it made up for it with a lot of fun humour. During each of the action scenes it is a joy to watch the reactions of B.A, Hannibal, Face and Murdoch and even the guys they are fighting with. There is a scene near the beginning with a helicopter chase where the bad guys are laughing and smiling at what the A-Team just did. The laughs and smiles of the A-Team while they are flying the tank really is infectious. The characters know that what they are doing is beyond belief and instead of trying to play it seriously they are laughing and enjoying themselves right along with the audience.
I am not going to say that either Knight and Day or A-Team are masterpieces but they are both fun and entertaining. You should notice that, I am not adding the qualifier of for a summer blockbuster. Knight and Day is the stronger movie for me but both movies kept me entertained and smiling the entire time. My only wish is that they would have relied a bit less on CGI for both movies when it came to the action scenes that could have been filmed using practical special effects.