Monday, 22 December 2014

The Long Kiss Goodnight - film review

I missed The Long Kiss Goodnight when it first came out back in 1996, and only now have I caught up with it. I'm glad I did, because this is an action thriller with a difference. The Christmassy background is appealing, but what really makes the movie work is a winning combination of action and wit,with excellent performances from several very bankable actors.

Sam Caine (Geena Davis) is a schoolteacher living in Pennsylvania who is trying to solve a mystery of her own. She suffers from a severe case of amnesia (and trivia buffs will no doubt spot that her very name is a relevant anagram) and has no memory of her life prior to eight years ago. She was pregnant at the time she lost her memory, and has a young daughter, but no idea of the father's identity. She is now in love with a decent man, but has spent a lot of money on trying to find out who she is. Now she is scraping the barrel by engaging the services of Mitch, a dodgy gumshoe played by Samuel L. Jackson.

After Sam is involved in a car accident, suffering concussion, her memory starts to come back. It soon emerges that she has skills with a knife. and when she is attacked by an escaped convict who bears her a grudge, she dispatches him with deadly efficiency. Soon it becomes clear that her past life was very different, and very dangerous. With Mitch's help, she makes contact with a former colleague, played by Brian Cox, but then her past catches up with her in dramatic fashion. The excellent cast also includes Patrick Malahide, one of my favourite screen bad guys (even though he did play good old Inspector Alleyn as well).

All in all, the film stands up very well despite the passage of time since it was first screened. Part of the credit for this goes to the actors, and in particular Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. But much of the success of the film is, I think, due to the quality of the writing. There's plenty of humour in the screenplay, and a couple of twists near the end are neatly foreshadowed in earlier scenes - a sign of careful writing. Shane Black, the writer, is well-known for his action thrillers, and this accomplished story is highly entertaining.

11 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I love this one.

Mack Lundy said...
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Mack Lundy said...
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Mack Lundy said...

Thanks for reminding me about this film. I need to buy it. For me it is one of the most perfect action films, up there with Die Hard. Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson are wonderful.

Martin Edwards said...

Bill, Mack, good to hear from you and all good wishes for the festive season.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Malahide has always been one of my favourite actors. He was also the decent but always thwarted policeman, Chisholm, in 'Minder.' Also did a great turn in the Christmas film (a favourite of mine) Comfort And Joy, about ice cream wars in Glasgow, starring Bill Paterson. We watch this film every Christmas! Another Christmas film worth a look - L.A. Confidential.
Happy Christmas Martin!
Liz Gilbey

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Liz. All the best, and by the way, I did like your article on Patricia Wenworth in CADS.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Saw this one when ti came out - it is very OTT but I love amnesia narratives and as you say, Jackson is always incredibly good value - I'd completely forgotten its seasonal aspects!

Clothes In Books said...

Like Sergio, I don't think of this as a Xmas film, but it is a good one, I think much underrated. Now I want to see it again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! A compliment from one of my favourite writers never goes amiss. I enjoyed writing it; didn't know until after it was written that she looks rather like me!Eek!

Happy New Year pet. Hope all goes well with all your projects.And congratulations to Anne Cleeves winning Celebrity Mastermind tonight. Not easy beating Robert Peston!

Liz Gilbey

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Liz. Yes, great performance by Ann, and a very good score. And she's always claimed to have an aversion to quizzes!