Thursday, July 7, 2016

Movie #369: The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Long Kiss Goodnight is an action movie starring Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Craig Bierko, Brian Cox, Yvonne Zima, and Tom Amandes. I didn't realize until we watched it last night that it's a Shane Black script, but in retrospect that's pretty obvious; it follows a lot of the same beats as Lethal Weapon.

Samantha Caine (Davis) is a small-town schoolteacher who doesn't remember anything before 8 years ago, when she washed up on a beach with a bullet wound in her head and pregnant with her daughter, Caitlyn (Zima). She's seeing a local man (Amandes) and has largely given up on finding out who she was...until her low-rent PI, Mitch (Jackson) digs up a lead just as she gets into a car accident and dreams of a woman named Charly...the woman she used to be.

Turns out "Samantha" was just a cover ID created by Charly Baltimore, a CIA assassin who was nearly killed by an arms dealer (David Morse) and a terrorist (Bierko) she was ordered to kill. Back in her own mind, she discovers that her old department is now doing business with said terrorist and plans to blow up a small town in New Jersey as a false flag to raise funding for the CIA. For further details, please see anyone who thinks of themselves as a "truther."

I enjoy this movie for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it's an action film starring a badass woman (and Davis is legit a badass), and having Jackson as the wisecracking sidekick-ish character is fun because he's a good and cool enough actor to make all the right beats work. Likewise, Brian Cox as Charly's mentor is a nice touch, as he plays "aging badass" really well. I also enjoy that Samantha isn't just a fabrication, but a person and role that Charly invented, so she chooses to reclaim at the end (but stays blond, indicating that she's also still Charly).

I'm not especially crazy about the treatment of Caitlyn during the movie; she's mostly a prop and a damsel. Likewise, although Craig Bierko does his crazy-eyed best with Timothy, the terrorist leader, I kind of feel like someone with a little more personality could have made the role more interesting. David Morse is nicely creepy for the few minutes he's oncreen, too. The plot falls victim to a classic action movie issue, which is "why in the world do you not just put two bullets in her head while you can?", and I don't think they dodged that question very well, but at the end of the day, it's fun watching Davis change from schoolteacher to acting on pure instinct to cooly efficient killer and back again.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Looper