THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Saturday, October 12, 1996 TAG: 9610120057 SECTION: DAILY BREAK PAGE: E4 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Movie Review SOURCE: BY MAL VINCENT, MOVIE CRITIC LENGTH: 55 lines
AMNESIA IS ONE of the most-used crutches for lazy screenwriters.
Throw in a character with amnesia and you can get away with all kind of implausible things that never could have happened. It's almost as good as a dream sequence.
It would take more than amnesia, though, to save the sicko silliness that comes in a $70 million package called ``The Long Kiss Goodnight.'' It's one of the year's worst movies, and one of the most expensive.
Director Renny Harlin, for our embarrassed sport, puts his wife, Geena Davis, through torture, killings and pointless strippings in what might qualify more as spouse abuse than moviemaking. Davis, who was an amusing comedic actress before she married Harlin, is initially seen as Samantha Caine, a mousy schoolteacher who can't remember anything beyond eight years ago. Don't ask how she got her teaching degree and how she disappeared so easily. In movies like this, people don't have Social Security numbers.
Anyway, Samantha notices, while cutting carrots in the kitchen, that she has an uncanny ability with the knife. She gets another clue to her action-packed past when she's required to snap a deer's neck. The two faces of Geena eventually suggest that she was once a secret agent named Charly Baltimore - a blonde who had more victims, if not more fun.
Having spotted her on a telecast of the local Christmas parade, the plug-ugly bad guys are in pursuit. They seek to shut her up before she remembers that the CIA actually blew up the World Trade Center in an effort to scare extra money out of Congress. Hey, governmental budgets are tight these days but is Newt really THIS tough?
Samuel L. Jackson, as a lower echelon detective, tags along to blurt out some embarrassing Stepin Fetchit gags.
The $70 million bought some stunning action scenes. Geena falling off buildings. Geena getting trapped under ice. Geena and Samuel running from a ball of fire. (The ball-of-fire scene is the most often-repeated action bit lately. It's become as much a standard as the car crash.)
Geena even gets strung up for torture. Kinky stuff.
This movie is so bad that it needs to be seen to be fathomed. It's one of those big-budget follies that becomes a pop-culture curiosity. ILLUSTRATION: NEW LINE CINEMA
Geena Davis stars as Samantha Caine/Charly Baltimore.
``The Long Kiss Goodnight''
Cast: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Malahide, Craig
Bierko, David Morse, G. D. Spradlin
Director: Renny Harlin
Screenplay: Shane Black
MPAA rating: R (sadistic violence, torture scenes, language)
Mal's rating: *1/2 by CNB