Hello and welcome to day 8 of The James Proclaims Advent Calendar Of Christmas(ish) films.
And door 8 invites us to cast our memories back to 1996, to a film in which Geena Davies has lost her memories – for our film today is none other than The Long Kiss Goodnight.
And wouldn’t you know it, it’s another Christmas(ish) action flick written by Shane Black.
Six years before amnesiac spies were all the rage thanks to Jason Bourne (I know that technically 2002’s The Bourne Identity was based on a 1980 novel of the same name and that there was also a 1988 film adaptation of the same novel but no-one much cared about Jason Bourne before the Matt Damon movie), Samantha Caine AKA Charly Baltimore was already running around not remembering stuff and being really good at fighting people. Davies convinces as both the perplexed school teacher with no memory, who can’t understand why people keep trying to kill her (or indeed how she manages to keep kicking their asses) and equally as the cold-blooded assassin she becomes once her memory is restored. They are such divergent identities that at times it’s hard enough to believe that they are the same character, let alone that they are being played by the same actor. That she then manages to find a convincing ‘happy medium’ between the two personalities at the film’s conclusion is all the more impressive.
Helping her out in her adventures, Samual L. Jackson has tremendous fun as the sharply dressed, morally-flawed-but-well-intentioned private detective who ends up very much out of his depth for most of the action.
It’s ludicrous stuff but lots of fun. A particular highlight is the world weary agent/mentor played by the ever-brilliant Brian Cox. He doesn’t have much to do, but manages to cram a lot of memorable one-liners in his brief time on screen, all delivered with an acerbic, sardonic wit.
If over-the-top action and border-line pantomime villains is your thing then you could definitely do much worse that The Long Kiss Goodnight. It’s nonsense but it’s thoroughly entertaining nonsense.
Score For Christmasishness
There are Christmas credentials aplenty in this film. No less than two Christmas Parades occur, one towards the beginning, and one during the action-packed denouement.
There is plenty of snow, and there’s even a reindeer, albeit the reindeer is mortally wounded in a road traffic accident, an accident that also sees the demise of the Santa Claus from the opening Christmas Parade scene. True, he’s not in his outfit when the accident occurs, and he is very much inebriated, but he is still the only version of Father Christmas to feature in the film.
The Christmas theme is helped further by the fact that the climax of the film is on Christmas Eve, so the objective of ‘saving the world’ (or in this case the lives of four thousand innocent people) runs in parallel with the notion of ‘saving Christmas’. That our heroine creatively uses Christmas lights to finally topple the bad guy is worthy of extra points.
Really the film could work just as well if set at any time of the year, but it does make the most of the Christmasishness available to it, which means, for the sake of this series, it scores highly.