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The Long Kiss Goodnight(1996)
Samantha is a suburban mom who makes a killer lemon meringue pie. Charly is a covert op who kills. They’re both the same person. Both may be as good as dead. Geena Davis stars as a woman whose fading amnesia reveals her secret life as an elite government assassin, and Samuel L. Jackson portrays the low-rent detective helping her unlock her memory, all while rogue agents scramble to bury Samantha/Charly and her past.
For more about The Long Kiss Goodnight and the The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray release, see the The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Malahide, Craig Bierko, Rex Linn, Brian Cox
Director: Renny Harlin
» See full cast & crew
The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray Review
The Bourne Maternity...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 30, 2011
The years haven't been kind to Finnish director Renny Harlin. Heralded as a rising star in '90s action cinema after the success of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, Harlin went on to bankrupt independent production company Carolco Pictures with Cutthroat Island, put a bullet in the head of an already ailing franchise with Exorcist: The Beginning, and hasn't churned out a solid film since 1999 creature feature Deep Blue Sea. (Driven, Mindhunters, The Covenant, Cleaner and 12 Rounds aren't exactly what I'd consider solid cinema.) But in his '90s prime, Harlin was an action alchemist, transforming genre trash into pure gold. The Long Kiss Goodnight may be a convoluted, 'splodey amnesia actioner, but it's a good convoluted, 'splodey amnesia actioner. Style obliterates substance, violence ensues, and Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson spit out two of the most entertaining genre performances of 1996. What's not to love? Actually, don't answer that...
It's impossible to ignore the similarities between The Long Kiss Goodnight and the Jason Bourne series, even though Harlin's film preceded Damon's first Bourne outing by some six years. (Screenwriter Shane Black surely had a copy of Robert Ludlum's 1980 spy thriller on his bookshelves when penning Goodnight.) Geena Davis is Samantha Caine, a mysterious woman working to forge a new life for herself eight years after a terrible accident left her with no memories or identity. Now a small-town Pennsylvania schoolteacher, Samantha has finally found happiness with her husband and daughter, Caitlin (Yvonne Zima). But when her past breezes into town with a vengeance, everybody's favorite housewife begins to remember who she once was: ruthless CIA assassin Charly Baltimore. Before you can say flashback, Samantha elicits the help of streetwise private investigator Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson), begins struggling with two competing personalities and has to face a parade of old foes (Craig Bierko and David Morse, among others), all while saving her daughter and thwarting a terrorist plot. Whew.
Amazingly, Harlin (and the many, many writers who took a pass at Black's original script) hold it all together, if only by a frayed thread. Charly's emerging persona is obnoxious and overdone, and the baddies she faces are fourth-tier Bond villains at best. But there's an unabashed abandon to Harlin's fire-burst storytelling and just enough intensity and conviction in Davis and Jackson's performances to keep nostalgic action hounds glued to their seats. Gunplay and 'splosions hit hard and often, and watching a demented Davis leer at a mirror is always fun. Jackson chews on every delicious bit of dialogue that comes his way with toothy tenacity, young Zima avoids every precocious-tot pitfall, Bierko takes full advantage of the freedom afforded him, Brian Cox lends a hint of gravelly gravitas where it's sorely lacking, Morse is suitably menacing... I'd say Harlin won half of his battles in casting alone. Even when the director's dizzying, over-the-top action beats threaten to undermine his actors' efforts, Davis digs deep or Jackson comes through with a side-splitting one-liner. It's a ballet of errors, really. Each time Harlin falters, Davis and Jackson leap in to save the increasingly labyrinthine thriller from its mad mastermind.
Big and dumb, Harlin's action indulges in '90s flash and circumstance, carves out a notch for itself just below ridiculous, and breathes and bleeds popcorn and butter. Take things too seriously and you'll despise every minute of The Long Kiss Goodnight. Crack a can of soda, munch on a bag of chips and flex that grin of yours, and you'll fall under Harlin's spell. At its most basic, the film is an action-comedy wrapped in dramatic linens; a genre-skirting catchall that takes a shot at earning cheers, laughs and tears. But it's also ungainly, tumbling from one extreme to the next with little to no sense of tone or, ironically, identity. Not that I'm complaining. For all its faults, The Long Kiss Goodnight isn't easily forgotten. It defies convention at almost every turn, introduces memorable character after memorable character, and revels in its own cinematic embellishments with such glee that it's next to impossible to look away. Big Dumb Fun is perhaps too dismissive a label to slap on Harlin's amnesia actioner, but you can't discuss The Long Kiss Goodnight without using the words big, dumb and fun at some point. Shrug off those cares and snuggle up with Davis, Jackson and Harlin. If nothing else, you'll have a blast.
The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner's 1080p/VC-1 encoded video transfer certainly looks better than its standard DVD counterpart, but The Long Kiss Goodnight deserves more. Minted from an older master, the presentation is haunted by crush, ringing and oversaturated skintones. Thankfully, no one issue gets out of hand. Guillermo Navarro's shadowcast palette is bursting with big, bold colors, striking primaries and deep blacks. Contrast is a bit overbearing at times, but never so much that it stamps out too much detail. Textures are fairly crisp and well-resolved, edge definition is sharp and generally stable, and the softer shots that litter the film appear to trace back to the source. And while some briefly glimpsed artifacting and banding puts a damper on the proceedings, the whole of the encode is sound. Significant macroblocking, aliasing, smearing and such are kept at bay, and there aren't any anomalies that amount to a serious distraction. All things considered, The Long Kiss Goodnight breezes past average and settles in somewhere north of decent. Fans of the film will be reasonably pleased.
The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Long Kiss Goodnight has plenty of explosions and gunfire on tap, and Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track embraces every thoom, boom and kick-kack that pierces the soundscape. The LFE channel unloads its wares with power and precision, even though the film's original sound design sometimes falls flat. Likewise, rear speaker activity is snappy and spirited, despite some minor, intermittent gaps in the soundfield. That's not to say any of it comes up short, just that it doesn't command the same level of respect as a newer action mix. Be that as it may, dialogue is clean, clear and smartly prioritized, directionality is involving, pans are swift and smooth, and the experience rarely disappoints. Warner's lossless track is the highlight of Warner's release and, as fifteen-year old catalog mixes go, lives up to the energy and mettle of Harlin's whiz-bang action.
The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of The Long Kiss Goodnight includes the film's theatrical trailer (SD, 3 minutes). Yep, that's it.
The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Renny Harlin may have fallen on harsh creative times, but his '90s canon lives on. While The Long Kiss Goodnight isn't his best, it is perhaps his biggest, dumbest and most fun. Just don't call it Big Dumb Fun. Between Davis and Jackson's performances, the film isn't so easy to dismiss, nor is its appeal limited to nostalgia. There's more going on under Harlin's hood than his critics give him credit for and, flaws and all, The Long Kiss Goodnight serves as proof. Unfortunately, Warner's Blu-ray release is another hit-or-miss catalog title. Its DTS-HD Master Audio surround track holds its ground, but its video transfer, though decent, is minted from an older master and its supplemental package includes nothing more than a theatrical trailer. Still, at such a low price, fans shouldn't hesitate to add this one to their carts.
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The Long Kiss Goodnight Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Warner Lowers Catalog Blu-ray Pricing, Starting with The Long Kis... - September 8, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced The Long Kiss Goodnight for January 11, 2011. This action movie from New Line Pictures, starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson, will be the first to carry the studio's "great new price for 2011!" of $19.98 (SRP), $5 less than ...
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