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Overall Rating
3.59

Awesome: 29.31%
Worth A Look34.48%
Average: 12.07%
Pretty Bad: 13.79%
Total Crap: 10.34%

2 reviews, 46 user ratings


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Long Kiss Goodnight, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Enjoyable junk; Geena gives it her all."
4 stars

Samantha Caine, a happy schoolteacher, wife, and mom, is what used to be called a nice girl. She's goofy and flighty, her hair spilling over her shoulders in gentle maternal curls. Charly Baltimore, a remorseless government spy, is every inch a bad girl. She drinks, smokes, sleeps around, wears her hair short and blond, kills practically everyone she meets, and -- worst of all -- she says bad words. Except for the profanity and the dye job, Charly is a female James Bond. Is there any common ground between these women?

There is and there isn't. The sly joke of The Long Kiss Goodnight, of course, is that Samantha and Charly are the same woman (Geena Davis). Samantha, you see, has had amnesia for eight years and settled into her new domestic identity. Her violent past as Charly the assassin is lost to her. But not for long. The movie, it turns out, has a better joke in store: Charly the pulp-fiction hit-woman is more "real" than the peaceful Samantha, who never really existed.

Samantha/Charly is an intriguing creation, and it's too bad her creator, Shane Black (who also wrote Lethal Weapon), couldn't have devised a better story for her. The plot is more of the same government vipers, ticking bombs, and cars bursting in air. Charly is pulled out of retirement when a former enemy spots Samantha on TV (in a Christmas parade, yet) and pays her a visit. Luckily, Charly's old tricks come back to Samantha when she needs them, and she takes off with cynical detective Mitch (Samuel L. Jackson), who knows her only as "Amnesia Chick."

Mitch is a solid (if underwritten) role for Jackson, who scores most of the movie's laughs with his increasing befuddlement at Amnesia Chick. Bits of Charly begin to surface in Samantha, until finally Charly takes over. This vastly increases the amount of Steve Buscemi-type punishment Mitch takes from the villains trying to kill Charly. He also gets a few lumps from Charly herself. "I liked Samantha better," Mitch gripes.

I liked them both, because Geena Davis is engaging and funny no matter which woman she is. She pulls off some Samantha-to-Charly transitions (and vice versa) that rank among the finer acting moments of the season. She's chilling when Samantha is with her little daughter and unconsciously lets a little cruel Charly slip out. And Davis's flashes of soft-hearted Samantha when she's cold-blooded Charly are wonderful. "Wanna get a dog?" Charly chirps before setting off a huge explosion.

As much as I enjoyed The Long Kiss Goodnight, I can't help sniffing some traces of sexism. When was the last time a male action hero was torn between family life and killing? Okay, True Lies is the exception. But where is the heroine who can just be a fighter and killer, no questions asked? [EDIT: This was written before TV's Xena and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not to mention Kill Bill.] Movies like this and Point of No Return bend over backwards to assure their male audience that it's all fantasy, that violence is alien to "normal" women.

Or maybe this mother-vs.-assassin conflict is a welcome dab of complexity to the familiar kaboom genre. And Geena Davis's warm, witty performance takes the sexist curse off it. The nice girl and the bad girl, as in real life, can be the same woman.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=644&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/10/07 10:22:32
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2006 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell kiss it goodbye it sucks 1 stars
10/09/12 Golden J. Williams Jr. Good female assassin (formerly called HYENA) do you remember why?? 5 stars
11/16/11 Jeff Wilder Doesn't do a much as it could with premise. But entertaining enough. 4 stars
7/07/10 PAUL SHORTT DAFT, OVER-THE-TOP, FAST-PACED THRILLER 2 stars
9/02/09 the dork knight Blood-soaked satire with snappy dialog. Shame that it runs on a bit too long 4 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Great Film! 4 stars
9/16/08 janie geena davis was one bad momma in this flick.jackson was fantastic.. 5 stars
11/24/06 William Goss Messy fun, with enough snarkiness for ten movies. 4 stars
9/16/06 Sepi53 GREAT ACTION with Geena and Samuel super hyper good! 5 stars
6/14/05 E-FUNK It never lets Harlin fan down. It sucks, it's indulting and it smells like dog-shit. 1 stars
4/15/05 reptilesni This was a fun B movie. Don't expect much, just enjoy it for what it is. 3 stars
2/07/05 Jeff Anderson AN AWESOME, AWESOME FILM, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! Just suspend disbelief & enjoy it. I SURE DID! 5 stars
8/24/04 john bale Silly as, but mostly harmless fun, and Geena gets undressed a lot ! 3 stars
5/24/04 Butterbean A lame amnesiac secret agent movie. I didn't buy Geena Davis in this role. 2 stars
1/17/04 John good actioners still retain a sense of reality- this one is far fetched nonsense with guns 2 stars
8/02/03 doug good 5 stars
6/17/03 Francis Implausibility in the details ruins it - I lasted 20 minutes 2 stars
5/12/03 R.W. Welch Had a good set-up but slides into unconvincing formula action schtick. 3 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby One of the best all-time actioners. Spectacular entertainment! 5 stars
10/24/02 colleen a blast and extremely quotable 5 stars
7/21/02 Croweater had promise but doesnt come close to fulfiliing it one little bit 2 stars
6/13/02 Marianne Blackwelder Geena Davis & Samuel L. Jackson -- what can you expect? 1 stars
2/27/02 Shrike Shallow, brainless tripe 2 stars
2/26/02 Arthur Wright Absolutely the greatest action flick EVER with a female hero.Top ten overall male/female 5 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden Very Good Overall, but I Still Couldn't See Davis In This Role. 4 stars
10/18/01 INCUBATOR Very nice 5 stars
10/07/01 jawsboy harlin's better movie along with DH 2, pretty good action, jackson is great!! 3 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean Sorry Dakamus, but I didn't buy Davis as a tough action heroine. But the movie was okay 3 stars
8/18/01 Dakamus I can buy Davis and a believable action heroine. And Jackson was funny as fuck! 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk That Finnish fuck did it again! THIS BLOWS! 1 stars
7/01/01 S. Dean Utterly believable fantasy. 5 stars
3/20/01 jerryg above average! 4 stars
2/17/01 Jake utterly awful! 1 stars
2/14/01 Richard Wright It has a female protagonist and she's lost her memory. Apart from that same old, same old.. 3 stars
2/12/01 Leather jacket Damn...buckle up baby...you are in for a terminator fucker ride 5 stars
2/06/01 Turtle An action-packed and fun thriller. 3 stars
11/29/00 The Evil Penguin Blond hair???? I mean, come on... 4 stars
11/10/00 U.M.F. Yeah baby 5 stars
1/24/00 Casey Jarzabek SAMUEL L IS THE FUNNIEST ACTOR I KNOW 5 stars
1/24/00 Casey Jarzabek SAMUEL L IS THE FUNNIEST ACTOR I KNOW 5 stars
11/04/99 Mickey "Father Death" MacJohnstmyster What a joke , i only wish she drove off the edge of a cliff at the end of the movie . 1 stars
8/04/99 Lauren I want to do that thing with the shot glass.... 5 stars
12/15/98 paulstanley totally incredible flick, geena davis is awesome.. 5 stars
11/25/98 Fred I didn't think Geena could be an uglier actress. I'll be fuckered. 2 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob Though I love Geena Davis, this just had me saying, 'Suck My Dick'!!!!! 2 stars
8/29/98 Johny I seemed to enjoy this more than most people 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Oct-1996 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Renny Harlin

Written by
  Shane Black

Cast
  Geena Davis
  Samuel L. Jackson
  Yvonne Zima
  Craig Bierko
  Tom Armandes
  Brian Cox



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