The Long Kiss Goodnight is a 1996 action thriller, written by Shane Black and directed by Renny Harlin, who also directed Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger with his good friend Sylvester Stallone. The film stars Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson, and was actually Jackson’s fifth film of 1996 alone. Unfortunately, with the exception of “A Time To Kill” his films of that year performed very poorly, including this one. The Long Kiss Goodnight grossed a lowly $9 million in the opening weekend and in total grossed $89 million worldwide, resulting in a disastrous flop. Interestingly, it did receive very high video rental sales when released, though one has to assume the average rentee was a heterosexual male who liked the dominant leading lady.
Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) is a suburban schoolteacher who suffers from chronic amnesia. When her mysterious past begins to haunt her idyllic life, she sets out on a desperate search to discover her true identity. Aided by Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson), a dead-beat private detective, Samantha follows an elaborate trail of clues into the middle of a terrorist conspiracy in the U.S. Intelligence community. The pair slowly learn that Caine is much more that a soft spoken teacher. Repressed from her memory is her former life as Charly Baltimore, a highly trained secret agent and killer. To the horror of all involved parties Charly is slowly re-emerging, spelling trouble for the terrorists and anybody else unfortunate enough to find themselves in her way.
With the exception of Samuel L. Jackson, The Long Kiss Goodnight was a terrible action film in my honest opinion. The story has been done to death, with absolutely nothing original added. Geena Davis was painstakingly wooden, and her alter-ego just made everything worse. All the action was extremely over-the-top, and unlike most action movies this wasn’t in the least bit enjoyable. I didn’t find myself connected to the characters in any way, to the point that by the time the third act began I no longer cared whether the “good guys” won or not. Perhaps I expected too much from Renny Harlin, a man who has directed far better films.
I’m not sure what Samuel L. Jackson was thinking when agreed to take part in The Long Kiss Goodnight, as his acting talents far exceed what the storyline here blesses us with.