I read about this on Snarky’s Machine a while ago but it got lost in my netflix queue, a sad tale suffered by so many films. Thank goodness, though, I finally watched The Long Kiss Goodnight, because this movie rules. Waking up alone and two months pregnant on a beach in New Jersey, Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) has no memory of her past but has managed to carve out a life in the past eight years. She’s a small-town schoolteacher in Pennsylvania with a nice guy boyfriend and a cute daughter, but little bits of her former self have been resurfacing and she’s scared of who she might have been, and who she might become. When an assassin attacks her in her own home, she enlists the aid of private detective Mitch Henessy (Samuel L Jackson) to finally uncover her past, and it turns out it’s ACTION-PACKED.
For some reason I had this vibe that maybe this movie wouldn’t be very good, that it wouldn’t live up to its cool premise. But that was a stupid thing to think, because this movie is pretty fucking awesome. I love Geena Davis in general and she is just excellent in her dual role, sweet and motherly one moment and sharp-tongued and homicidal the next, and then effectively combining these two parts of herself into one person. It’s an interesting character and I loved watching her shift and evolve as the film progressed. I also kind wish I had a secret past and suddenly developed awesome fighting skills? Maybe one day. I loved her rapport with Jackson, too, since their witty and often mean repartee is the kind of buddy comedy at which Black excels, just usually not with a female character. And Jackson himself is great, rocking these awesome green duds and cracking wise every few minutes. The story itself took a little while to get going, but I liked that the script really takes time to establish these characters, so that their later actions are seen in context.
Action-wise, I was pretty excited by this movie. I’m anti-gun but damn this is the kind of thing where I totally have action movie fantasies about going Commando on some armored compound and shooting all the bad guys. There’s also a crazy bomb threat that involves a huge truck and shooting from a helicopter and lots of fire and also crossing the Canadian border? It’s rad. In fact, I think most things about this movie are rad, and I’m not sure why we aren’t constantly talking about it? I know it’s sort of mired in mid-90s-ness in its visuals and gritty fights, and I know amnesia is like this weird, easy plot device, and it does sort of lose itself towards the end, but I can’t help loving it all. Also if you’re a Shane Black fan, this is interesting to see a few of his jokes and ideas used differently- I recognized some from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and I’m now wondering if the joke about everyone surviving at the end is drawn from this movie (originally a major character was supposed to be killed off). Curious.