Julien Neaves, Editor
Last month (October 11 to be exact) cult classic spy action flick The Long Kiss Goodnight turned 25. The film stars Geena Davis as an amnesiac woman who discovers she was a CIA assassin. She teams up with a low rent private detective (Samuel L. Jackson) to uncover the truth while on the run from enemies of her past life.
I remember watching this film in cinema as a teenager and having a total blast with it. But does it hold up two and a half decades later? With an explosive SPOILER ALERT let’s revisit The Long Kiss Goodnight.
One of the highlights of the film remains the main characters. I’ve always found Geena Davis to be a fun actress and she does well doing double duty as dowdy homemaker Samatha Caine and super cool one-woman killing machine Agent Charlene Elizabeth “Charly” Baltimore. I didn’t recall when I was remembering the film, but upon rewatching the reemergence of the Charly personality borrowed heavily from horror, with the blonde spy persona “haunting” Samantha. And the transition from Samantha to Charly remains dark, darkly humorous and entertaining. Sure the whole amnesiac-who-is-secretly-a-trained-killer has been done to death (no pun intended) but the stark difference in the two personalities still makes it stand out here.
And Davis has a riotous chemistry with Jackson’s PI Mitch Henessey. This film came out a year after Die Hard With a Vengeance which saw Jackson playing sidekick to Bruce Willis. And he definitely brings a great energy and humour to the sidekick role again. As the chain smoking, wisecracking, mnemonic humming, audience proxy Mitch he delivers one of his most likeable and underrated characters. He bounces off well both with Samantha and Charly, and the duo (or duos, I guess) deliver on the thrills, kills and laughs. And it would be remiss of me not to mention Brian Cox as dry-witted CIA handler Dr Nathan Waldman. When he tells the old woman at the home that her dog licking its butt for two hours means whatever is in there is either gone or there to stay makes me laugh every time. Craig Bierko also makes for a decent love-to-hate bad guy as Timothy.
The film is an action film, so what about the action? There was actually not as much as I remembered. There are some massive, over-the-top set pieces, including jumping out the window of the train station and the Charly’s explosive escape from the Niagara Falls base. When I was younger it was super exciting but as an adult it truly does strain ye olde suspension of disbelief. And the plot holes are more obvious. Like why did Charly shoot up the basement even before she knew there were gas tanks down there? And why did the bad guys approach the truck at the end when they knew there was a massive bomb about to go off? Make it make sense, people. And Mitch is my boy, but he should have been dead about three times over.
But the main story of Charly accepting her role as mother and rediscovering her humanity is a sweet one. And I liked the ending visual of her with her long blonde hair, showing she has found a balance between her two personas. The film also cuts such a brisk pace that it never feels boring. And with memorable action and quotable dialogue The Long Kiss Goodnight still holds up pretty well 25 years later.
Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10
So are you a fan of The Long Kiss Goodnight? Sound off in the comments. And you can check out more classic action below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.