The Long Kiss Goodnight

Here's the supersexy and action-charged Hollywood take on France's La Femme Nikita that Bridget Fonda couldn't pull off in her Girl Scoutish Point of No Return. Geena Davis and her director and husband, Renny Harlin, recover from their Cutthroat Island fiasco in grand style, and screenwriter Shane Black (The Last Boy Scout) juggles jolts and jokes with a mad fervor that almost earns him his $4 million salary.

Davis plays an amnesiac who woke up eight years ago, lost and two months' pregnant. She took the name Samantha Caine and settled down as a small-town teacher with a nice daughter, a nice boy friend and a disreputable private eye, played by a sassy Samuel L. Jackson, digging for clues. Tossing around a kitchen knife, she thinks that she's found her occupation. "Chefs do that," she says. So do secret agents. When an assassin shows up, she twists his neck, cuts his throat and licks his blood. "Chefs do that," she says, mocking her boyfriend's shock. Samantha is really Charly Baltimore, the spy babe who came in from the burbs.

Davis is a dazzler as Charly. She cuts her hair, dyes it blond and offers a blow job to the private dick, who rejects it as a "white-woman, colored-man thing." Jackson does a Pulp Fiction riff, and Davis does Sheena of the postmodern jungle. So what? Their deft teamwork adds a welcome human touch. Will Charly trash the CIA (the agency we love to hate) and return to mommyhood? Not before Harlin and La Femme Geena turn on the fireworks. Chefs do that, at least the ones who can whip up a mindless mindblower that goes down as a guilty pleasure.

From The Archives Issue 92: September 30, 1971