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The Long Kiss Goodnight [RSC Film Club 40]


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This month we are celebrating the long career and extensive filmography of Samuel L. Jackson, the highest grossing actor of all time whose films have made a worldwide total of over 20 billion dollars.  Billion.  The film we'll be watching is the 1996 spy film The Long Kiss Goodnight.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

The film stars Geena Davis (whatever happened to her?) as amnesiac teacher Samantha who may have been a spy before she lost her memory.  With the help of our man Jackson as private detective Mitch Henessey she attempts to put together the pieces of her past.  Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) and written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Action Hero, The Nice Guys) this should turn out to be a fun, fast paced, quippy joyride of an action thriller.  This will be a first time watch for me and I can't wait to check it out.  


I got myself outta Beirut once, I think I can get outta New Jersey

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Whatever happened to Geena Davis?  

She took that role in Cutthroat Island. One of the biggest box office bombs in history.  It once held the record for the largest box office loss. Long Kiss was only a moderate success and a couple movies before those didn’t do any better. Hollywood felt she was no longer bankable and the offers dried up. She went to world of TV acting afterwards. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So this is my first time seeing this and my biggest thought throughout the whole film was how god damn 90's it is.  It is also a quintessential Shane Black script; Christmas, odd couple lead pair, smoking and a weird horniness (Geena Davis saying "suck my d*ck" came out of nowhere and was kinda hot).  The plot, at its most basic, is decent.  Davis's amnesiac sweet natured schoolteaher remembers her past as a bad-*ss government assassin with the help of Samuel L. Jackson's low rent private detective Mitch Henessey who at one point in the film sports a fuzzy Kangol hat and it's f*cking amazing.  In fact all of his outfits are great, it's like his whole wardrobe is from a charity store that only has stuff from the 70's.  The film loses me somewhat is when it introduces all of the CIA nonsense about false flag attacks on the World Trade Center and a total waste of Brian Cox.  

Where the film shines is when we get Davis and Jackson together.  They have great chemistry and I liked the shift in dynamics between the two of them.  At first he's the one protecting her, but as more of her past comes to the fore she becomes the one protecting him.  I like how he seemed to be scared of her at times, like he's slowly seeing a monster step out of the shadows.  Davis shows great versatility here, she's totally believable as both the cookie-baking mother and as the stone cold killer.  I also like the visual shift in her character, cemented when she dyes her hair bleach blonde and she looks amazing.  Jackson is also good as the comic relief and he's in full Samuel L. Jackson mode.  By that I mean that to me there are two Samuel L. Jacksons, the actor and the personality.  He's the actor in stuff like Unbreakable, Django Unchained and Kingsman and he's the personality in stuff like Pulp Fiction, Nick Fury in the MCU and this.  Both are great, and he's great in this.  

While this isn't the best Black script (I have a huge soft spot for Last Action Hero) it's let down by the pretty pedestrian direction.  There is a nice shift where the start of the film feels like a sitcom, complete with 90's sitcom jazz music, it changes to more of an action film as Davis becomes more of an *ss-kicker.  But Harlin isn't up to the standard of other directors who have adapted Black's scripts, most notably Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon) and John McTiernan (Last Action Hero, The Last Boy Scout).  Black is also an accomplished director himself (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and The Nice Guys are both fantastic).  

Overall this is a decent film with a lot of fun moments that gets dragged down by an over-complicated plot that at times gets in the way of the genuinely fantastic interplay between Davis and Jackson.  Also, how weird was that scene where she chops up loads of vegetables really fast?  7/10

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  • 4 weeks later...

I remember seeing this on TV maybe a year or so after it was released at the cinema and liking it. Watching it now wasn't quite as good as I remembered, that, I suppose, show how tastes change over time. But it was still a very enjoyable and a good film. The only scene I actually remembered is probably the one anyone would remember if they only remember one, when Samantha and Mitch jump out of the upper floor of a building onto a frozen lake with Samantha using her submachine gun to break up the ice and break their fall. Also though it's not exactly unique, an action film with a female lead wasn't exactly the norm when this was made. So that I really liked.


The two main actors, Geena Davis as Samantha and Samuel L Jackson as Mitch, are very good and the scenes with just those two in do stand out above the rest. I agree with Lime that Brian Cox is wasted in his role; it would have been a better film if he was in more of it and had some better lines in the scenes he was in. The action sequences are good and don't overshadow the actual story. The scene where Samantha is in hospital and starting to remember some of her secret-agent past is a bit corny, when we see her thoughts / dream it's almost seems more like something from a pop-video or a soap like Dallas or Dynasty. But that was early on and there was nothing that bad afterwards. I really like that it doesn't overdo the whole mum plot aspect. It would have been very easy to have Samantha do everything she does just for her daughter, but this is more a case of an action film with a main character who just happens to be a mother.


So overall a decent film, very well worth watching again, 7/10.

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I agree with most of what both @djw180and @LimeGreenLegendhave to say.  Just rewatched this last week. Very enjoyable!
Brian Cox was most definitely under used.  It’s almost as if he was doing a favor for the Director.  Although A bit of a throwaway role, he definitely made it memorable.

Love both Sam Jackson and Geena Davis in this 1990s action flick.
This was actually one of the first DVDs I ever bought after buying my first DVD player.  Jaws and Alien were the other two. 😏

Glad you guys liked it! 🙂

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