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The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) - Movie Review

The Long Kiss Goodnight movie poster

Every once in a while I watch a movie that I really should’ve watched sooner (in this case 26 years sooner). It can often be fun discovering a film that’s been around for a long time, and as with a lot of older movies the years and countless watches tend to have garnered them a lot of love from the film watching public.

In most cases I enjoy the movie and immediately understand why people hold it such high regard. In others, I don’t, and that can make writing an honest post about it somewhat challenging.

With that in mind I watched a film recently that applies to the latter.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

I couldn’t tell you why it took me so long to watch this movie. I remember it coming out and thinking I’d watch it. For some reason though I didn’t, until now.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a 90s action/mystery/thriller written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3), directed by Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2) that stars Geena Davis (The Fly) and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) among many others.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

“Schoolteacher and single mother Samantha Caine (Davis) lives an average suburban life until she begins having strange memories of unexplained violence and discovers that she has physical skills that she never imagined. Hiring private detective Mitch Hennessey (Jackson) to probe into her past, Samantha discovers that she's a well-trained government assassin who went missing after suffering a bout of amnesia and that her former handlers want her back in their employ.”

This is one of those movies that’s often brought into the “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” debate. Shane Black (writer) seems to love setting his films around Christmas as much as Renny Harlin (director) seemed to enjoy making movies that were set in the snow (at least around the early to mid 90s). This film is every bit as Christmassy as Die Hard, but the two have one main thing in common: Neither are Christmas movies.

With those two names attached to this film I was pretty sure I was gonna like it - after all, I love the Lethal Weapon films, and Renny Harlin has directed some classics that are among my favourites (Deep Blue Sea and Cliffhanger to name just a couple). Alas I was very underwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong I love a good action movie, but this was just too over the top for me. It’s predictable, full of highly convenient scenarios and action movie cliches, it has a very typical yet unremarkable bad guy, and I found the plot incoherent (Geena Davis is supposed to have amnesia but acts more like she has multiple personality disorder). It also felt about half an hour too long.

It wasn’t all bad though. At times I felt myself settling into it, but it seemed like just as I started to enjoy it something would happen that would make me roll my eyes and consider turning it off.

I liked Samuel L. Jackson’s character, and in fact I thought he carried the film.

Of course it probably doesn’t help that I’m not a huge Geena Davis fan. Aside from The Fly (1986) and Beetlejuice (1988) I can take or leave most of the films she’s been in. That said, she did do a half decent job of playing two completely different types of character, I just didn’t think the hard-ass one suited her. It was also good to see another strong female character in a movie that didn’t seem like it was written just to please a certain audience. That sadly happens all too often these days.

As I was watching this film I could see how it might’ve inspired The Bourne Identity (2002). Whether or not it did I couldn't say, but the fact that both movies are essentially about a CIA operative losing their memory and discovering they have hidden abilities, while trying to piece together what happened to them is too much of a similarity to ignore.

Regardless of any Bourne-inspired link, as much as it was good to finally tick this off the list I can’t say I’ll be watching it again.

I find Shane Black very hit and miss these days and after his abomination of a Predator movie a few years ago I probably should’ve known better than to get my hopes up about something else he’d written.

I apologise if I’ve offended any fans of this movie with my ranty post. As ever these are just my thoughts, and I always encourage you to watch these movies and make your own minds up. Unfortunately though this one wasn’t for me.

Seen it? Love it? Hate it?

Let me know in the comments.

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