The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) Revisited: Action Movie Review

When you’re doing a video series like Reel Action, you can never go too long without mentioning Shane Black. And when it comes to Christmas action movies, Shane Black is the guy to turn to. The holiday spirit brought us our video on The Last Boy Scout last year, and this time the yuletide tidings bring us another Shane Black classic, The Long Kiss Goodnight!

It’s funny that we don’t think of The Long Kiss Goodnight as a Christmas movie, the way we famously argue about Die Hard all of the time. But that’s okay. For guys like me, and probably you if you’re watching this video, it’s absolutely an annual favorite around this time. The film starred Geena Davis as Samantha Kane, a small-town schoolteacher who woke up with amnesia eight years ago. With no memory of who she was, she still manages to build a life with a loyal husband and young daughter. That is until she discovers that she was actually one of the world’s best assassins, and she’s being hunted by her former employers. The only way to save herself and her family is to hit the road with dubious private eye Mitch Hennessy, played by the untouchably cool Samuel L. Jackson, and learn the truth about her past. We’ll come back to why Samuel L. Jackson is so untouchable in this film a bit later. 

The Long Kiss Goodnight wasn’t just another action movie. With Geena Davis as the star, playing a role traditionally designed for a man, the film was a rarity and a ballsy gamble. Davis also would’ve seemed like an unlikely pick for this type of assassin flick, but then she was married at the time to director Renny Harlin, the guy behind Die Hard 2, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and Cliffhanger.

Um, he was also the director of Cutthroat Island, an infamous big-budget pirate movie known for being an epic box office flop that destroyed careers. Davis starred in that, too, and its impact on The Long Kiss Goodnight would be felt and not in a good way.

But The Long Kiss Goodnight is insanely good, with Harlin doing some of his career’s best work, using the icy setting to let Davis pull off some really crazy stuff on ice skates. Tonya Harding ain’t got nothin’ on her!

Reel Action is written and narrated by Travis Hopson. Check out some previous episodes below!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.