The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)


The Long Kiss Goodnight is a very interesting phenomenon, if not a movie that's interesting to watch. It takes elements from several different recent films and jumbles them all up until they are completely incomprehensible. If you've watched a lot of movies lately, as I have, you might be able to find something to think about instead of having to completely dissociate and form a second personality to deal with the horror of it all.

Here's the story, as near as I can tell: Geena Davis plays herself. After the shooting of Cutthroat Island (directed, as was The Long Kiss Goodnight, by her weird Swedish husband Renny Harlin), Ms. Davis, tired of her horrible, dried-up movie career which hasn't seen a hit since 1992's A League of Their Own, jumps off the pirate ship into the ocean, attempting to drown herself. Instead, she lives, and washes up on the beach without being able to remember who she is. Authorities convince her that she is Samantha Caine, a school teacher, and over eight years she manages to build a new life in upstate New York.

Meanwhile, Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) of 1994's Pulp Fiction has given up his life of crime and "wandered the earth" to New York City, where he has become a fleabag detective who relies on prostitution rackets to keep his bills paid. Of course, he's still a "bad motherf---er." Winnfield uncovers Davis's "true identity" in a series of shocking revelations. It turns out that she's really a government assassin named Charlie Baltimore (what kind of Charlie girl are you?) who works for "The Chapter," a supersecret agency so supersecret its director meets with the President in the White House kitchen. The president in this alternate universe is R.J. Hacker, the arms dealer from 1995's Canadian Bacon, now invested with real power.

Anyway, as Charlie tries to surface and reclaim her old glamorous life of fakey bleached hair and killing people, she encounters Lyman Collier (Brian Cox) of this year's Chain Reaction, still up to his old corrupt stunts. He's offed pretty quickly, presumably meaning we'll have abundant clean energy in the foreseeable future, whether Keanu signs for the sequel or not. He's murdered by the fella Charlie was supposed to hit before her amnesia, code name Daedalus, who is really Dr. Peters of last year's Twelve Monkeys. He's joined forces with The Chapter so they can keep getting their funding, and he works with the father of Davis's mystery daughter, who is played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, who apparently has been working hard on getting rid of his accent. Nice work, Jean-Claude.

So now, in addition to trying to save the world and kill people, Davis has to foil the big plan to stage a terrorist attack so The Chapter can keep its funding, and save her daughter who has been kidnapped by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Anybody wanna take bets if she can do it, especially with Jules Winnfield as backup?

The whole movie is basically a backdrop for screenwriter Shane Black and director Renny Harlin's grand, brutal wet dream of brutalizing women and then looking lovingly at the scars inflicted. Geena Davis plays right along, staring mysteriously at her bruises in big mirrors and saying, "Sometimes I stand and stare at my scars and wonder where they came from." If you don't puke, you might be Renny Harlin or a fourteen-year-old ADD-afflicted, Mortal Kombat-addicted slackjaw with just maybe one too many porn magazines under your mattress. Lots of children get threatened with guns and bombs, as well, so if you think that sounds like fun, this winner's for you, too.

To sum up, people may tell you that there's some good dialogue (there is, but only about eight lines' worth, and it's so spread out and disconnected that you look at your watch waiting for one, or, like, a big explosion), and some people might tell you there's some good action (there's about five minutes' worth an hour and fifteen minutes in), but overall, this is the worst movie of the year, worse even than The Crow: City of Angels, and that's saying a mouthful.

Links for The Long Kiss Goodnight

Internet Movie Database Entry

Roger Ebert Review


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