One of the best films of the last 20 years
, 24 Aug 2011
First things first. If you have only ever seen this film on TV, you owe it to yourself to buy or rent the blu-ray or DVD NOW. ITV only ever show the 4:3 format pan & scan 'TV version', which is tragic.
Script by Shane Black is one of the sharpest and funniest you'll ever hear - almost every single line is quotable. It's Tarantinoesque banter, but on a much higher level. Here are some (non naughty word) examples:
'You couldn't hit a lake if you were standing on the bottom.'
'I never did one thing right in my life, you know that? Not one. That takes skill.'
The plot is very similar to The Bourne Identity - the novel came out in 1980, but the Matt Damon film was several years after this. Whereas the Bourne films are mostly action with very little in the way of sparkling dialogue, Long Kiss Goodnight offers both, in spades.
Even the action sequences have wit and verve: shooting a frozen lake as you're about to fall in it; shooting at bad guys on ice skates; escaping from a meat locker using a child's doll.
Geena Davis is a major selling point - she's brilliant as the action hero and gives a nuanced performance as the amnesiac coming to terms with her past. And everything pays off: the ice-skating lesson, the fact that she's a mum, even the Christmas setting. Support from Samuel L. Jackson is also superb. Forget Pulp Fiction: this, for me, is his best role.
'Are you thinking what I'm thinking?'
'I hope not, because I'm thinking how much my b*lls hurt.'
A film that combines the best of the Bourne and Lethal Weapon franchises with the best of Pulp Fiction and even Alias, this should be on everyone's must-see list. It's also a subtle homage to Robert Altman's 1973 version of The Long Goodbye: 'Nothing says goodbye like a bullet.'
Avoid if: strong language offends.
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