Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Long Kiss Goodnight

Movie Name:
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Year of Release: 1996
Director: Renny Harlin
Starring: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Craig Bierko, David Morse, Brian Cox, Yvonne Zima, Tom Amandes, Patrick Malahide, Joseph McKenna, Melina Kanakaredes, Dan Warry-Smith, Rex Linn
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
The debacle of "Cutthroat Island" which premiered in 1995, left the creative team of Renny Harlin and Geena Davis, at the time a married couple with their own producing company, in dire need of figuring out what to do next. That came in the shape of Shane Black's "The Long Kiss Goodnight" script, which at the time was sold for a hefty sum. The film follows the story of Samantha Caine, a school teacher who lives in a small town alongside her young daughter and boyfriend. Samantha has no recollection of her life prior to when she was discovered 8 years ago on a New Jersey shore, pregnant with her young daughter Caitlin. She's hired a series of investigators throughout the years to discover who she was, the most recent of them being Mitch. During the Christmas Holiday, she's involved in a car accident, suffers a concussion, which in turn sparks some memories of her past. Her home is soon invaded by a criminal with ties to her past, to which she responds lethally, surprising even her. She decides to research more about her past with the assistance of Mitch, and as they embark on that journey, they eventually uncover Samantha's real name, occupation, a very sinister plot involving government agents and a series of individuals all bent on making sure that her disappearance is permanent.
Renny Harlin enjoyed a blooming directorial career in the early 90s, particularly in the action films arena. "Die Hard 2" and "Cliffhanger" were his initial calls to fame, though he also briefly worked on "Alien 3", before moving on from that project. "Cutthroat Island" was a big debacle for him and also Geena Davis, and "The Long Kiss Goodnight" was their hopeful chance to reinstate them as creative powerhouses. The film ultimately fails to capitalize on what has become a trademark for Shane Black's best projects: intelligently devised plot married with a cracking sense of humor (something he showcased in the wonderful "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and also "The Nice Guys"). This film has Geena Davis as the nerdy schoolteacher, who turns out to be a resourceful and "edgy" secret agent, with a comedic sidekick in the shape of Samuel L. Jackson, both of whom have to team up and face off some nefarious individuals, led by an ex lover of Geena Davis's character. The film lacks a lot of the energy which is usually associated with Shane Black's scripts, save for Samuel L. Jackson's character. Both personalities of the central character are simply a bunch of clich├ęs tied together, whereas the supporting characters, including the main villain, have little to no dimension. The film ends up relying on the action set pieces to somehow make an impact, but even the stunts feel cheaply executed, lacking some of the polish one can expect from films hailing from John McTiernan in the 80s and 90s or Chad Stahelski/David Leitch more recently, to name but a few. The cast for the most part does what they can, with the fantastic Brian Cox having very little bandwidth to showcase his range, the same going for David Morse. Samuel L. Jackson ends up being the most riveting presence throughout the entire film. The cinematography from Guillermo Navarro is excellent, as is the score from the always reliable Alan Silvestri. Ultimately it just fails to resonate.