The Long Kiss Goodnight

Year: 1996
Directed By: Renny Harlin
Written By: Shane Black


Such an interesting time it was when the pairing of Renny Harlin and Shane Black was a formula for success.  This movie came out at the end of an era when mindless action movies could have an R-rating and still have the potential to turn a significant profit.  I miss those days because even though most of these movies were really stupid I still enjoyed most of them.  I was 12 when this movie came out, and at that age the bigger the explosions and the bigger the lead female’s breast the better. This movie has all that but gets a boost from the fact that Samuel L Motherfucking Jackson is in it. Any movie, no matter the premise or context, is better when Samuel L Jackson is in it, period.  The film has a lot of over the top action and unlikely scenarios but those are to be expected from movies by both Harlin and Black. This film, being a collaboration between the two, may exaggerate that quality a bit. While everything might all be a bit too much in this film there is still plenty to like about it.  In fact, Harlin and Jackson both are on record mentioning it as one of their favorite movies that they worked on.

I watched this movie recently when I was on vacation with my brother.  It was interesting because we both grew up with it being a household favorite.  The two of us watching it together found little else in the film but things to make fun of. There is plenty to laugh off as ridiculous in this movie. For example, the scene in which Samantha starts cutting vegetables. The music alone makes it goofy as hell when the tone goes from suspenseful to lighthearted back to suspenseful in a matter of minutes. As a viewer it’s hard to tell if the scene is supposed to be horrifying or humorous. In good company there can be different perspectives on the table though and now that I am watching the movie on my own I’m seeing it differently.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a film to be taken seriously, but still there can be plenty to like here if you are in the right mood for it.

Samuel L Jackson is a gem who has made many roles his own.  I am generally under the theory that by and large he is and always will be Jules from Inglewood.  That’s OK though, because Jules was one of the greatest characters of all time.  He has played the character time and time again with different names and situations but he will always be Jules. There is a little bit of Jules in Mitch from this movie, and if nothing else it is Mitch who makes this movie worth wild.  He has so many great scenes in this film.  Here is a good example of what he brought to the film:

That’s just a taste of the comedic quality Jackson brought to the movie.  He is hands down one of my favorite actors of all time and while I don’t watch everything he does I do love him in everything I see him in.  I’ll be honest; this film collection may have Snakes on a Plane lurking in the “S” section specifically because Samuel L Jackson is awesome. I think the fact that he has mentioned this movie as one of his favorites when he has made almost 150 movies says something important and if nothing else it makes this movie worth your time to see it.

I have always liked Geena Davis, but in truth that is probably only because she was in her prime while I was going through puberty. Still, despite movies like this, she turned in a few impressive performances in her time. I think it was a bit of a stretch for Renny Harlin to try to make an action star out of his wife but she made a better effort than Angelina Jolie ever did. Despite how much of an apocalyptic failure Cutthroat Island was I always liked it but I think this collaboration between Harlin and Davis was much better. She looked pretty good in the pirate get-up but she had the right attitude for Samantha Caine and Charlie Baltimore both despite being such an exaggerated character.  

Some films have a timeless quality that enables them to live on forever and relate to every generation that comes along.  This is not one of those movies.  The Long Kiss Goodnight is the kind of movie that you just had to be there to really enjoy.  It’s hard to look back now and appreciate this movie but if you were there, living life in the mid 90s and loving these kinds of actions movies, then you get it.  This movie was a product of its time, just as I am, and having that in common I like this movie even though it may be pretty silly when that wasn’t at all what it was going for.  If you remember the good old days when bad guys and good guys alike both used the fuck word with an aggressive frequency and enjoyed them as I did then this one is worth your time.  If nothing else it is worth seeing just because Samuel L Jackson was awesome in it.

NEXT MOVIE: Look Who’s Talking (1989) This is an embarrassment I know, read our next review to see easy it is to get caught up in the moment and make stupid decisions. 


  1. I just watched the Long Kiss Goodnight, as recently as two days ago, on Video on Demand from either HBO of Showtime (I forget which), and to quote Alfred Hitchcock, “it’s only a movie.” Get over yourself — one can not be a snob about something that was never intended to be a source of comedy with dramatic overtones. The Long Kiss Goodnight was made for 13 year old boys like you were; the R rating was primarily for violence and language, but you got a great thrill thinking that you were going to see something adult. Your concept regarding Sam L. is entirely wrong — there is some of Samuel L. Jackson in every one of his characters, a great deal of his dialogue appears improvised, and not bits of characters living within other characters. The first time that one gets a sense of Mr. Jackson’s acting style is when he played the man with no name,Angry Black Man” in Sea of Love, and realized that he could act, and again when he appeared on Law and Order, and distinguished himself. Finally, regarding Ms. Davis’ vegetable cutting scene: can’t a situation be both horrifying and humorous at the same time? Isn’t that called irony? Take a look at the video of Martha Stewart while she was cutting a head of lettuce, being asked about her legal situation, and obviously trying very hard to keep her composure; Christine Quinn clasping her hands, clenching her teeth, moving her head sort of to the left and trying to smile at the same time, when she is very obviously pissed at a question or situation that she cannot control — situations that are both humorous and horrifying. The film still holds up — stop reviewing it like a big boy who likes big boobs and things that go boom.

    1. That seemed a bit harsh but everybody is entitled to their opinion. First of all, you can say what you want about Samuel L Jackson but I am not criticizing him and if I remember correctly I refer to him as one of my favorites. Jackson was around for nearly 20 years before Tarantino made him Oscar worthy with Pulp Fiction in 1995. It was then and is still now the most significant role in his career because it made him a house hold name and it was the only role he ever received an Oscar nomination for. There was a tone and intensity to that character that he has brought to many characters he has played since. In this movie the scene when he screams about prison comes to mind “I’M NOT GOING BACK!” it’s the look in his eye, the way he raises his voice. He does this in many movies and it always takes me back to “and you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!” Maybe you don’t see it this way and maybe nobody else does either, but as I said sometimes it’s all about perspective and that just happens to be mine. Secondly, I reviewed this film like a big boy who likes big boobs and things that go boom specifically. We own over 600 movies and the purpose of this blog is for us to revisit all of them and reconnect with them. This movie specifically is in our collection because deep down there are still elements of that young teenager inside of me who, well, liked big boobs and explosions. The movies we own are the ones we have always felt were special and a step above others. Yet there are several movies just like this one in the collection because I am a sucker for what caught my eye as a kid. It can feel awkward to go from movie to movie at times as they can be so drastically different. Following award winning movies that are universally loved with an over the top action movie can make it seem a bit sillier than it might have otherwise. I loved this movie but feel I have to be honest about what it is and that is an over the top campy action movie. The audience demands more these days, we don’t see movies like this hitting the big screen and finding success. This movie would have been straight to video had it been made last year as opposed to 1996, but the industry is different today. I will always enjoy this movie because it was a household favorite growing up, but I do not agree that it still holds up today and I think it would struggle to find an audience in younger generations who have already seen everything this movie has to offer and more.
      Despite your difference in opinion and critical review of mine I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and I am glad you like this movie enough to stand up for it, even though I would argue we are on the same side. Despite your criticism I will still invite you to share your thoughts on other reviews we have written. If you click on “The List” link in the top right hand corner of the page it will give you a list of links to every review we have written over the last couple of years.

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