The Long Kiss Goodnight is a mean, lean, enthralling action-thriller with writer Shane Black in cruise control.
Action-thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight was initially one of the nineties’ biggest commercial flops, and signalled another nail in the coffin for director Renny Harlin’s career. However, upon second viewing, this action-thriller further solidifies writer Shane Black’s witty, electrifying style.
The Long Kiss Goodnight follows small-town schoolteacher and mother Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Samantha is involved in a car accident, regaining physical and psychological skills from her former life as a professional CIA assassin. Aided by private investigator Mitch Hennessy (Samuel L. Jackson), Sam soon discovers shocking details about her past.
This action flick highlights Black’s taste for the buddy-cop genre. His style includes several unique traits; unlike most buddy-cop actioners, his writing depicts how certain tropes would play out in reality. His style builds upon each character’s grasp on reality – sensitive, charismatic people aware of the consequences. Davis and Jackson, two of the 90s’ most charming actors, bounce off one another throughout.
Among his many character-building elements, Black sets each of his films during the festive season. Of course, The Long Kiss Goodnight, similarly to Die Hard, acknowledges the importance of family and love in this happy time of year. In addition, the film’s bright, colourful settings elevate the film’s action sequences. The first set-piece – depicting Sam regaining her powers whilst protecting her family from assassins – is a violent, eye-opening number. Like many of Black’s projects, The Long Kiss Goodnight balances family drama and character moments with full-throttle entertainment. The climactic action sequence is a frenzying cacophony of snow, explosions, gunfire, and kick-ass moments from its effective female protagonist.
Sitting comfortably alongside Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight proves Black brings together yuletide celebrations and tough action cinema with panache.
Images courtesy of Roadshow Films & New Line Cinema