Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) is a schoolteacher in the small town of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, with her boyfriend Hal (Tom Amandes) and her daughter Caitlin (Yvonne Zima). She remains curious as to her amnesia of events from 8 years prior, having been found washed ashore on a New Jersey beach, and has hired a number of private investigators to try to discover her past, the latest being Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson). During the Christmas holidays, Samantha is involved in a car accident and suffers a brief concussion, and when she recovers, she finds that she possesses skills with a knife that she cannot explain. Some time later, they are attacked by "One-Eyed" Jack (Joseph McKenna), a convict who escaped from jail after seeing Samantha's face on television, but she demonstrates the prowess to subdue and kill Jack bare-handed. Worried that she may scare Caitlin, Samantha leaves with Mitch, who has been able to find a suitcase purportedly belonging to her, to seek out answers.
The suitcase contains a note directing the two to Dr. Nathan Waldman (Brian Cox), who they arrange to meet at a train station, unaware that unknown agents are tracing the doctor's calls. En route, Samantha discovers the bottom of the suitcase contains a disassembled Remington 700 which she can expertly reassemble, along with other weapons. At the station, Samantha and Mitch go to meet Nathan and are attacked by a number of agents, but the two manage to escape with Nathan's help. The doctor reveals that he knows Samantha is really an expert CIA assassin, Charlene Elizabeth "Charly" Baltimore, who had disappeared eight years prior. Unsure if they can trust him, Samantha and Mitch leave Nathan behind and seek another contact named on a note within the suitcase, Luke (David Morse), believing him to be Samantha's fiancé. Nathan catches up and they realize too late that Luke was Samantha's last assassination target "Daedalus"; Luke kills Nathan, captures and tortures Samantha, during which she remembers her past life. Samantha escapes, kills Luke, and escapes with Mitch.
Samantha/Charly struggles with the duality of her life, realizing that the Samantha Caine personality was her cover to get near to Daedalus eight years earlier, and considered abandoning it. Mitch helps her to recognize the importance of her daughter to her. Continuing to search for answers, Samantha and Mitch learn about Daedalus' involvement in "Project Honeymoon", which she has disrupted on her mission eight years earlier and resulted in One-Eyed Jack's incarceration; "Project Honeymoon" was a false flag chemical bomb detonation in downtown Niagara Falls, New York, planned out by the CIA, used to place blame on terrorists and to secure more funding and power for the department. Samantha realizes that a new group is plotting to repeat the attack, led by her former boss at the CIA, Leland Perkins (Patrick Malahide) and a psychological-operations specialist named Timothy (Craig Bierko), who Samantha, as Charly, had a romantic relationship with in the past. She and Mitch head to Niagara Falls, and learn that Timothy has kidnapped Caitlin, as well as the motivation behind 'Project Honeymoon' - Simulating a muslim-made terrorist attack as to increase CIA off-shore operations funding, recently cut off by congress. Samantha implores Timothy not to hurt Caitlin, recognizing that Timothy is Caitlin's biological father.
Samantha and Mitch attack the staging area, forcing Timothy to launch the attack early, locking Caitlin in a cage on the truck carrying the chemical bomb. Mitch is gravely injured in the attack, but gives Samantha cover for her to give chase to the truck. She overpowers the truck's driver, diverting it out onto an empty bridge before it overturns. Samantha and Timothy fight, but she overpowers him and knocks Timothy out on top of the truck. Critically injured, Samantha frees Caitlin and tells her to clear the bridge, but Timothy's agents prevent her from leaving. Mitch suddenly arrives in a car, races across the bridge, and picks up Samantha and Caitlin in time before the truck bomb explodes, killing Timothy, the remains of his force, and destroying the bridge.
In the epilogue, Charly has returned to her assumed identity as Samantha Caine, moving with Caitlin and Hal to a remote farmhouse, and declines an offer to rejoin the CIA. For his part, Mitch enjoys the publicity attracted by his role in the crisis, and is last seen being interviewed by Larry King on television, where they discuss Perkins, who was indicted for treason.
- Geena Davis as Samantha Caine/Charlene Elizabeth "Charly" Baltimore
- Samuel L. Jackson as Mitch Henessey
- Patrick Malahide as Leland Perkins
- Craig Bierko as Timothy
- Brian Cox as Dr. Nathan Waldman
- David Morse as Luke/Daedalus
- G.D. Spradlin as President
- Tom Amandes as Hal
- Yvonne Zima as Caitlin Caine
- Melina Kanakaredes as Trin
- Alan North as Earl
- Larry King as Himself
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.
The film received mainly positive reviews. It holds a 67% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 53 reviews (35 positive, 17 negative). 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 is some weaknesses in the script. 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."
Production History and Background NotesEdit
The screenplay was written by Shane Black, who was at the start of the 1990s one of the highest-paid scriptwriters in Hollywood. According to Black, the script he penned was heavily re-written by script doctors.
The character "Mitch Henessey" was originally supposed to be white and Jewish and had a different name; Matthew Broderick and Richard Dreyfuss were both considered for it. Samuel L. Jackson heard about the script, read it, and arranged to do a reading. He so impressed everyone that he got the role and the part was renamed and rewritten for him.
The film was shot throughout Ontario, Canada. Many notable and well-known spots can be picked out throughout. Filming took place in Toronto, Hamilton, Collingwood, Milton, Uxbridge, Wasaga Beach, Unionville and at Windermere House in Muskoka.
While filming scenes at the historic Windermere House in Muskoka in February of 1996, there was a fire and it burned down. Supposed causes were either the heat from the film lights or a short circuit in the power cabling, but it was never proven. The shoot was reworked by filming scenes in Collingwood. Windermere House was later rebuilt and reopened in the spring of 1997.
The ice skating scenes were filmed in sub-zero-degree temperatures using an aerial rig and was complimented by later green screen shots in a studio. A scene in which Charly (Geena Davis) does a double axel and shoots her opponents upside-down in mid-air was scrapped when it was found impossible to make it look fluid and credible.
Of all the films he has made, director Renny Harlin says The Long Kiss Goodnight is his favorite. In a 2012 interview with Nuts magazine, Jackson stated the same.
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.
A possible sequel has been in the works since 2007, but nothing definite had been reported as of February 2016.
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