The Caine Identity
Watching "The Long Kiss Goodnight" now it is impossible not to notice similarities with "The Bourne Identity", we have a woman suffering from amnesia who suddenly discovers she has been trained in several deadly skills and goes about discovering who she really is. But "The Long Kiss Goodnight" is by no means in the same league as any of the "Bourne" movies as it isn't gritty, not that clever and revels in over the top action mixed in with what comes across as awkward humour. Although saying that "The Long Kiss Goodnight" and the combination of Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson ends up entertaining in an obvious over the top way.
8 years after washing up on a beach suffering from amnesia, Samantha Caine (Geena Davis - Cutthroat Island) has made a new life for herself as a yummy mummy with an 8 year old daughter and a loving partner. But when she is involved in a car accident, parts of her memory come flooding back as she discovers she has incredible knife skills. Along with hustling private investigator Mitch (Samuel L. Jackson - A Time to Kill) who she hired to discover her past they set off to find out who she really is. But it soon becomes apparent that Samantha is a lethal weapon, a trained assassin and they find themselves in the middle of a Government conspiracy with many people wanting Samantha, or Charly as she learns she really is, dead.
Considering "The Long Kiss Goodnight" came before we had ever seen Matt Damon becoming Jason Bourne the actual storyline isn't bad. We are introduced to the wholesome Samantha Caine, a single mother with a loving boyfriend and an almost perfect life except for the fact she only remembers the last 8 years of it. Then after an accident she starts to get some extraordinary and deadly skills as her past life comes flying back and along with a low rent private investigator they end up dealing with a Government conspiracy. It is an okay storyline which provides for plenty of action and although it's beyond belief it entertains.
But there is one major problem for me and whilst director Renny Harlin treats us with some great action scenes, including numerous slow motion shoot outs, the constant comedy feels wrong. We get dumb joke after dumb joke as Samantha and Mitch find themselves dodging bullets in the search of who she really is and it just feels too forced. It doesn't help that with every moment of comedy the dialogue falls depressingly towards the cheesy and you find yourself laughing not because it's funny but because it's bad. Maybe Harlin was intentionally going for the corny trying to give us a "True Lies" style action comedy but it just doesn't come off and leaves "The Long Kiss Goodnight" feeling slightly wrong.
The most annoying thing is that if Harlin hadn't tried to infuse "The Long Kiss Goodnight" with so much comedy it could have been a better than average movie. The various action scenes and storyline work well together and whilst it would never have been as gritty as the more recent "Bourne" movies it could have worked as more of an action drama than an action comedy. Well except for the terrible and far too strange way that Samantha discovers who she really is by dream like encounters with her previous self, it's a terrible idea and again out of place.
A big part of the reason why in despite of the poor comedy "The Long Kiss Goodnight" still remains entertaining is the casting of Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. Okay so the movie plays on Geena Davis being seriously sexy, starting with her dressed in a Mrs. Claus outfit and constantly featuring her in figure hutting wet tops, but she actually delivers the action in an enjoyable manner. It is over the top but I would rather watch a sexy Geena Davis kicking bad guy's butts than a grubby Bruce Willis. And the partnership with Samuel L. Jackson helps make some of the comedy scenes work for the simple reason Jackson can be incredibly funny whilst delivering bad ass attitude.
Aside from the lead duo of Davis and Jackson "The Long Kiss Goodnight" has quite a few recognizable faces from TV regular Tom Amandes through to big screen favourites such as Brian Cox and David Morse. Although to be honest most of these faces get very little time as Harlin focuses on the exploits of Davis and Jackson. But it has to be said that Joseph McKenna makes for a great bad guy as the cornily named One-Eyed Jack.
What this all boils down to is that "The Long Kiss Goodnight" is an entertaining movie and the pairing of Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson works well. But it has one major issue and that is it's trying to be an action comedy movie yet the comedy feels all wrong, far too corny for words and ends up spoiling what in fact could have been quite a good action drama.