I love this movie. I know it got a bashing by the critics when it came out, and dissed completely; but I still love it. I also like movies like The Phantom, or The Shadow – Saturday morning serials made completely for the fun factor and the goofiness.
But The Long Kiss Goodnight? I have NO idea what the title is supposed to mean in context with the movie itself. But it has a completely kick-ass anti-heroine. An awesome sidekick in Samuel Jackson’s character Mitch Hennessey. It has Samuel Jackson, easily one of my favorite actors in cinema today. It has Craig Bierko as the main villian, and a hilarious, dangerous Mentor played to the hilt by Brian Cox. It follows expectations of story beats. Except for the fact that the lead is a female character, it’s a very conventional action flick.
So why did the critics hate it so much? The one-liners were a mile-a-minute. The anti-heroine, a super assassin that makes Elektra Assassin look like a piker, even finds her maternal side, and the story makes a point of showing that even though she DOES get her memories and child back, she doesn’t turn back into Suzy Homemaker. You wonder exactly what it is she’s teaching the kids in her school!
The wonderful thing about this movie is how the two main characters, Charly Baltimore and Mitch Hennessey, keep hauling each other’s asses out of the fire (literally). He keeps asking when she’s going to rescue him, and she keeps doing it. How often do you see THAT in an action movie? And maybe the critics didn’t like this movie because of Davis’ character being a completely unrepetant killer. She kills “bad guys” and has no regrets doing it. Violently. Threatening to revenge the stuff they do to her and hers. Just like the boys. Charly Baltimore would make James Bond quake in his shoes. According to Jackson’s character, she massively loathes herself (just like Bond does himself). Unlike Bond, she gets over it, and still gets her Nice Guy at the end.
Maybe the critics disliked this movie because, not only was the main character an unrepetant female assassin, she was also engaged to a Nice Guy, Hal. He’s not important enough to have his own last name on IMDB. And yet, in Bad Girl Mode, she went after her sidekick, while still (to the rest of the world) engaged to the other man. And not only that, but the sidekick did NOT let her go ahead and seduce him. You could tell he wouldn’t have minded, though, if she weren’t attached. Geez. Wow. A main woman character with two men on the string, and both of them nice guys, and, to top it off (throwing in the racial card) how dare she go after the *black* guy. I wonder if that had something to do with how much the critics disliked this movie.
If you switch the genders around, you’ll find that it doesn’t make a difference in how the movie works. I could see a male assassin character doing pretty much everything Davis’ character did. Make Bierko’s bad guy a simple former mark instead of a former mark/lover (hmm…teh gay aspect would have interesting, too, had Davis’ character been male), and it still would have worked. The Female aspect was icing on the cake.
And to top it off, I think Geena Davis carried the role off really well. You can tell she’d worked out for the role. Although she’s got the typical skinny Hollywood star body, she’s worked on her arms, and it’s convincing enough that she could haul those huge guns around and do some of the other (outrageous) action they ask of her. If her character had been a man, I can see the script putting the male character through the same stuff – including that wet scene in the water wheel house. It’s the sort of stuff James Bond fans live for.
Samuel Jackson plays a typical fish-out-of-water former policeman/former con with a heart to the top with his usual excellence. I don’t think he has bad chem with ANYone he’s ever been on screen with.
Brian Cox is dry and hilarious with his lines as the mentor. He has a priceless scene at the beginning, having nothing to do with the main plot, except as a character piece. His lines about a little dog licking its privates are about the funniest I’ve heard in a long time. You wouldn’t expect someone who *looks* like this dude, a college professor type, to talk the way he does. The only thing I regret in this movie is that they didn’t violate the tenets of the action movie, and let him live. He was complete fun.
The only other female character in the movie is Charly’s daughter. She’s an eight year old, angelic looking (emphasized by dressing her in an angel’s outfit at one point!) and completely unfazed by her mother’s change in personality. She’s a pawn in the plot, but at the same time, the filmmakers manage to make HER honorable and as brave as her mother is, too. Charly makes her daughter run away because a bomb is about to explode, and she’s dying. The little girl does that, but turns around and makes her mother ‘wake up’ from a near death experience, by telling her there’s no way she’s leaving her mom. It was nice to see. The plot macguffin turns out to have her ‘own mind’ and sense of right and wrong. Like her mom, in the end, she’s not treated completely like A Girl. She’s got the guts she inherited from her mom.
I adore this movie.