The Long Kiss Goodnight

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The Long Kiss Goodnight
Long kiss goodnight ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRenny Harlin
Produced byStephanie Austin
Shane Black
Renny Harlin
Written byShane Black
Music byAlan Silvestri
CinematographyGuillermo Navarro
Edited byWilliam Goldenberg
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • October 11, 1996 (1996-10-11)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million
Box office$89.5 million

The Long Kiss Goodnight is a 1996 American action spy thriller film directed and produced by Renny Harlin, written and produced by Shane Black and starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson.


Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) is a small-town schoolteacher, living with her boyfriend Hal (Tom Amandes) and her daughter Caitlin (Yvonne Zima). Eight years earlier, she was found washed ashore on a New Jersey beach, pregnant with Caitlin and totally amnesiatic. Having never remembered her real name, "Samantha" has hired a number of ineffective private investigators to discover her past, the latest being a lowlife named Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson). During the Christmas holidays, Samantha is involved in a car accident and suffers a brief concussion; when she recovers, she finds she possesses skills with a knife that she cannot explain. Shortly thereafter, the family home is broken into by "One-Eyed Jack" (Joseph McKenna), a convict who escaped from jail after seeing Samantha's face on television. Samantha demonstrates her fighting prowess by killing Jack bare-handed. Worried that she poses a danger to Hal and Caitlin, Samantha leaves with Mitch, who has found a suitcase belonging to her, to seek out answers.

The suitcase contains a note directing them to Dr. Nathan Waldman (Brian Cox). They arrange to meet at a train station, unaware that government agents are tapping the doctor's calls. En route, Samantha discovers the bottom of the suitcase contains a disassembled sniper rifle which she can expertly reassemble, along with other weapons. When Samantha and Mitch go to meet Waldman at the station, they are attacked by a team of agents who shoot numerous bystanders, but the two escape with Waldman's help. The doctor informs Samantha that she is really an expert CIA assassin, Charlene Elizabeth "Charly" Baltimore, who had disappeared eight years prior. Unsure if they can trust Waldman, Samantha and Mitch leave him behind and seek another contact named on a note in the suitcase, Luke (David Morse), believing he may be Caitlin's father.

Waldman catches up with them and tries to warn them that Luke is actually Charly's last assassination target, "Daedalus". However, Luke kills Dr. Waldman, then straps Samantha to a waterwheel and tortures her by repeatedly submerging her in freezing cold water. While underwater she is finally jolted into remembering her past life. Samantha frees herself, kills Luke, and escapes with Mitch. Samantha completes her physical transformation back to Charly, cutting her hair and dying it platinum blonde. Charly realizes that her "Samantha Caine" personality was a cover to get near to Daedalus eight years earlier.

A psychological-operations specialist named Timothy (Craig Bierko), with whom Charly once had a romantic relationship, kidnaps Caitlin. Charly and Mitch learn about Daedalus' involvement in "Project Honeymoon", which she disrupted on her mission, resulting in One-Eyed Jack's incarceration; "Project Honeymoon" was intended to be a false flag chemical bomb detonation in downtown Niagara Falls, New York, planned by the CIA in an attempt to blame Islamic terrorists and secure more funding. Charly realizes that a new group is plotting to restage the attack, led by Timothy and their former boss at the CIA, Leland Perkins (Patrick Malahide). In Niagara Falls, where Timothy has taken Caitlin, he captures Mitch and Charly. She tells Timothy that he is Caitlin's biological father and implores him not to hurt their daughter, but Timothy locks Charly and Caitlin in a freezer to kill them.

Charly and Caitlin break out of the freezer by detonating barrels of kerosene, freeing Mitch, who helps Charly attack the staging area. This forces Timothy to launch the attack early; meanwhile, Caitlin locks herself in a cage on the truck carrying the bomb. Charly chases the truck, overpowers its driver, diverts it from a Christmas parade, and overturns it on the Niagara Falls International Bridge leading to Canada. Charly frees Caitlin but they cannot get away from the bomb, which is about to explode, as Timothy and his agents attack them from a helicopter. Mitch suddenly arrives in a car, picking up Charly and Caitlin and entering Canada just before the bomb explodes, which kills Timothy and his forces and destroys the bridge.

In an epilogue, Charly has returned to her assumed identity of Samantha Caine, moving with Caitlin and Hal to a remote farmhouse and declining an offer from the president to rejoin the CIA. Mitch enjoys the publicity attracted by his role in the crisis and is interviewed by Larry King on television about Perkins, who was indicted for treason.



In an early cut Mitch Henessey dies, but in a test screening an audience member shouted "You can't kill Sam Jackson!" and Harlin changed the final cut so that his character survives.[1]


Box office[edit]

In the film's opening release, it grossed $9,065,363 from 2,245 theaters, placing third for the films that released that weekend. In the United States and Canada, the film grossed $33,447,612. Internationally it earned $56,009,149 for a total worldwide gross of $89,456,761.[2]

Renny Harlin blamed the film’s poor performance on confusing advertising, but Shane Black wondered whether it might’ve been more successful if it were about a man: “It might have made more money, they told me, but it had to be a woman. The lead had to be female.’” It's also been suggested that the film's poor advertising campaign and lukewarm reception amongst critics may have been carry-over effect from Renny Harlin and Geena Davis' previous collaboration, Cutthroat Island, which was released just 10 months earlier, and became one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. [3]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mainly positive reviews. It holds a 69% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 54 reviews.[4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a median grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[5]

Christine James from Boxoffice gave the film 3 and a half out of 5 stars, calling it "a lot of fun," but believing that there are some weaknesses in the script.[6] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 and a half out of 4 stars, stating, "I admired it as an example of craftsmanship, but what a lot of time and money to spend on something of no real substance."[7]

In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films.[8] The Long Kiss Goodnight was listed at 82nd place on this list.[9]

Samuel L. Jackson has stated that The Long Kiss Goodnight is his favorite movie to watch which he has been in.[10]


Originally, the last page of Black's original 1994 script stated that there would be a sequel called The Kiss After Lightning, which never happened. A possible sequel has been in the works since 2007, but nothing definite had been reported as of November 2017.[11]


  1. ^ Jordan, Pat (April 26, 2012). "How Samuel L. Jackson Became His Own Genre". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "The Long Kiss Goodnight". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Page, Priscilla (June 2, 2016). "The Spy And The Private Eye And THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT". Birth. Movies. Death.
  4. ^ The Long Kiss Goodnight Rotten Tomatoes profile
  5. ^ "CinemaScore".
  6. ^ The Long Kiss Goodnight review Archived 2010-02-05 at the Wayback Machine James, Christine.
  7. ^ The Long Kiss Goodnight review Ebert, Roger
  8. ^ "The 100 best action movies". Time Out. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "The 100 best action movies: 90-81". Time Out. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Staff, Editorial. "Harlin talks Long Kiss Goodnight 2 – Moviehole". Retrieved 2014-07-30.

Further reading[edit]

  • Heldman, Caroline; Frankel, Laura Lazarus; Holmes, Jennifer (April–June 2016). ""Hot, black leather, whip" The (de)evolution of female protagonists in action cinema, 1960–2014". Sexualization, Media, and Society. 2 (2): 6. doi:10.1177/2374623815627789. Pdf.
  • Purse, Lisa (2011), "Return of the "angry woman": authenticating female physical action in contemporary cinema", in Waters, Melanie (ed.), Women on screen: feminism and femininity in visual culture, Basingstoke New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 185–198, ISBN 9780230229655.

External links[edit]