Retrospect Review: Long Kiss Goodnight, a Holiday Film that Nobody Talks About

This review may contain spoilers.

Year: 1996

Runtime: 121 Minutes

Director: Renny Harling

Writer: Shane Black

Stars: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Brian Cox, Craig Bierko, Yvonne Zima, Patrick Malahide, David Morse

“Long Kiss Goodnight,” directed by Renny Harling and written by Shane Black, premiered in 1996. Geena Davis played the role of Samantha Caine – a woman with a unique story. In her narrative at the beginning of the film, the audience finds out that she woke up one day, eight years ago, not remembering her life before that. Now, a suburban mom of an eight-year-old girl (Yvonne Zima), Samantha leads relatively tranquil life with her daughter and partner, Hal (Tom Amandes).

After the brutal car accident, Samantha begins to remember things from her past. Everything changes when the detective she hired, Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson), helps her on her way to remember. As Samantha’s muscle memory (such as throwing knives with excellent precision) begins to come out to the surface, the woman starts to fear that her past wasn’t at all ordinary. The deeper her and Mitch goes, the more dangerous their position becomes. Samantha discovers that she not only can throw knives – the woman is an excellent shooter. It turns out that Samantha’s real name is Charlene “Charly” Elizabeth Baltimore, and she’s the spy/hitwoman who has worked for the government itself. Samantha, aka Charly, must find out what happened that night eight years ago and who’s trying to assassinate her and Mitch.

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© 1996 New Line Cinema

“Long Kiss Goodnight” is already 23 years old. As technology has advanced in a significant way, we can expect cheesy lines and not so precise fight scenes. But that’s specifically what makes it a perfect must-watch. Harling’s action drama is also a holiday film. The plot starts with Geena Davis’ character dressed up as Mrs Claus during the Christmas parade. The holiday season is almost there when Samantha goes with Mitch to find her past. In the cold Pennsylvanian morning, the woman says goodbye to Caitlin and Hal. She promises her daughter that she will return as soon as she discovers her past self.

“Bruce Willis, in the role of John McClane, will always remain a legendary figure. But the question is, how come “Long Kiss Goodnight” is usually skipped in the movie list for the holidays?”

In contemporary pop culture, it was established and “sanctified” that “Die Hard” is the ultimate Christmas film under the thriller/action genre. Bruce Willis, in the role of John McClane, will always remain a legendary figure. But the question is, how come “Long Kiss Goodnight” is usually skipped in the movie list for the holidays? Both films share a very similar atmosphere and great lines such as Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker!  In “Long Kiss Goodnight,” Samantha’s character, too, uses said curse. Her most famous line is when she drives the huge truck that’s also a bomb. Her eyes are watery, and the blood dries on her cheeks when she says– Suck my dick, every one of you bastards. Funnily enough, the second part of the franchise, “Die Hard 2” was actually directed by Renny Harling – the director of “Long Kiss Goodnight.”

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© 1996 New Line Cinema

Geena Davis, as Samantha/Charly, is excellent. Her character is divided into two separate personalities – one that she was before and one that she is after Samantha lost her memory. We can compare it to the good and evil side. The first one, the audience meets at the beginning of the film. The woman is a perfect mom, housemaker, and teacher. She is doing it all. Throughout the film, we meet another one – Charlene. This female character is a spy working for a government. The woman is smart and dangerous. Samantha and Charly are very different. Even small things like smoking or drinking separate them. It almost seems like a split personality that the audience can perceive in the scene of Samantha’s dreams or the scene where Daedalus tortures the female lead.

In one second, she almost dies by drowning, but in another, Charly takes over, frees one of her hands, and shoots the bad guy. Another way to distinguish it is a topic of rebirth. Geena Davis’ character was an entirely different person before she lost her memory. But, she was reborn like a Phoenix from the ashes. The person she became is more helpful, quieter. Samantha’s focus on her family and work. It may be that Charly was the one who longed for those qualities, and the memory loss made it happen.

“Geena Davis, as Samantha/Charly, is excellent. Her character is divided into two separate personalities – one that she was before and one that she is after Samantha lost her memory. We can compare it to the good and evil side.”

Alongside the action, there is also humour. The friendly banter that happens between Samantha and Mitch is a great addition to the plot of “Long Kiss Goodnight.” Action scenes interspersed with scenes involving Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson add charm. The cheesiness of it all makes it even all better.

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THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, Geena Davis, Yvonne Zima, 1996, (c)New Line Cinema

Maybe this year, next to “Die Hard,” you should, too, watch “Long Kiss Goodnight” – you won’t be disappointed with cursing, extraordinarily skilled and smart Charly and warm, polite Samantha who, oftentimes, throws a knife because chefs do that.

“Long Kiss Goodnight” is currently available to stream on Netflix.

4 stars

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