Classic Intel: The Long Kiss Goodnight - DVD Review

'that rarest of things: an action film made in the nineties that doesn't look dated'

Renny Harlin's 1996 film about a school teacher with amnesia, is that rarest of things: an action film made in the nineties that doesn't look dated, still raises the odd chuckle and very ably rides a tidal wave of excitement which wouldn't look out of place at today's box office. The success of The Long Kiss Goodnight is in no small part due to screenwriter Shane Black, for whom this can now be read as a warm up for the better, fresher, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Black's script fizzes with the type of humour and dry wit that made the Val Kilmer/Robert Downey Jr. combination in the later film so impressive. 'We jumped. Out. Of. A. Building!' exclaims Samuel L. Jackon's out-of-his-depth investigator at one point, 'yes, it was very exciting. Tomorrow we go to the zoo' retorts Brian Cox' experienced spy.

If all the highlights seem to come early (Cox and Jackon's 'that's a duck, not a dick' conversation is another brilliant early piece of scripting) then that's partly because they do and partly because Harlin directs everything at such a pace. Before you know it, Geena Davis' Samantha has discovered an entire back-story to her character and is attempting to stop a generic terrorist plot, whilst Cox' character disappears just as he was becoming likable. Like all amnesia-related stories, Bourne included, The Long Kiss Goodnight is more compelling when you're not sure what's happening, less so when Harlin resorts to simply blowing stuff up.

Having said that, the two lead characters (Jackson's Mitch and Davis' Samantha) are interesting enough to keep you invested right until Harlin's pyrotechnic-happy finale. Jackson gets the best lines and excels in a let-loose way that he's afforded all too rarely these days, whilst Davis does a solid job as the predictably developed Samantha. Support from anyone other than Cox is weak and fairly inconsequential but ultimately it doesn't really matter: as zinger after zinger from Black floods the screen, you'll struggle to fail to enjoy what is basically two hours of unadulterated action-comedy perfection.

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'has a jokey good time with its outlandish pyrotechnics and offbeat character interplay' - Variety (Todd McCarthy)

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