a critiQal film review The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Samantha (Davis) is just an ordinary small-town schoolteacher with a happy life. Thanks to a case of amnesia, she has no idea she used to be a government assassin. But, when her past starts to invade on her present, she, and a fly-by-night private investigator she's hired (Jackson), will have to rely on her past training if they have any hope of staying alive.

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  • ...Samuel L. Jackson helps make this Geena Davis assassin pic worth watching.

Geena Davis in a hit movie? Yeah, right. She can barely act her way out of a paper bag. Toss in Samuel L. Jackson, now we’re talking. Maybe he’ll be able to liven up The Long Kiss Goodnight a little, and it’ll at least be watchable. Those were my thoughts going into the film. Boy, was I surprised.

Geena Davis actually does a decent job in The Long Kiss Goodnight. I know, that’s almost impossible to believe (since the last film she played a character well was Beetlejuice (1988)), but it’s true.

She plays the weird kinda-psycho/kinda-innocent character well. She’s torn between two realities throughout the film, and the viewer is easily able to distinguish between the two, even before she cuts her hair and bleaches it blonde (On a side note – Geena, stick with the short blonde – it looks good on you). The only unfortunate side effect to having her husband direct her, apparently, is her ineptness at kissing (take a closer look if you missed it).

Samuel L. Jackson comes through yet again in a brilliantly comedic performance. The man brings life to whatever character he portrays. It’s always a blast watching him. You can tell he loves his job.

The plot of The Long Kiss Goodnight is a tried and true one. How many previous assassins get amnesia anyway? There has got to be a 12-step program for this by now. If it happens this often, why do the government spy agencies complain about budget cuts? It’s not like there are that many agents left – they’ve all got amnesia! But I digress…

Even though the plot is unoriginal in basis, the dialogue and some of the scenes make up for it. This movie has to have, without a doubt, one of the funniest no-dialogue scenes I’ve ever seen. At one point Charlie (Geena’s alter-ego) pushes Mitch out of a moving car into the middle of the road. Mitch, rather than getting out of the road, just fumbles around for a cigarette and lights it. You have to see the scene to experience it. The expression on his face is priceless.

The special effects in The Long Kiss Goodnight are the typical wham! bam! of action flicks, but look a bit outdated by this point. You can almost point to the blue screen in a few climactic scenes. Still, some of the stunts are original, and do, for the most part, help the movie flow smoothly. The machine-gunning the ice before falling in is definitely a nice trick, as is shooting while ice skating.

The Long Kiss Goodnight is a good popcorn action movie. It’s got explosions. It’s got a guy, er…girl against the world plot. It’s got humor. It’s got a little bit of heart. And, it’s got Samuel L. Jackson. True, it does have Geena Davis, and some of the special effects are outdated, but don’t let that stop you.

Indulge yourself in The Long Kiss Goodnight…tonight. Don’t forget the popcorn!

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