Sunday, 25 December 2016

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Samantha Caine is a school teacher who can't remember anything before the night, eight years ago, when she was found on a beach.  She was two months pregnant at the time and how has a daughter, a boyfriend who seems like a good guy, and a pretty contented life overall ... a life that's going to be thrown upside down when she finally stumbles across information about who she was 'before' - a lethally effective secret agent - and is plunged into the dangerous world of modern espionage.

I first saw The Long Kiss Goodnight when it was in theatres.  I loved it, bought it on VHS when it became available, and then on DVD when my VCR gave up the ghost.  When I sat down to watch it for this bonus review, it would be at least the fifth time I'd seen it, quite possibly more.  I was very much looking forward to enjoying all the bad-ass action once again.

However, I also read Clementine Ford's Fight Like A Girl recently.  I highly recommend it for anyone who has a genuine interest in gender equality and the experiences of women.  Just be aware that it'll impact the way you view media.

This film's bad-ass action remains bad-ass, it must be said.  But it's also a 1990s action film, and as my recent reading made me much more apt to notice, those can have some problematic attitudes.  There's a scene where a man tries to grab the female lead's breast while she is trying to drive, for instance, and said scene frames this as a basically harmless bit of old man lechery.  Well, harmless until fending him off causes her to crash the car, anyway.

So there's some problematic elements in the film, to go along with the good.  For instance, on the one hand, I love the fact that it features a capable woman and that once the guns and chases start, no-one in the film ever makes a big deal of her gender.  They treat her based on her capabilities, not her sex.  On the other hand, the film none too subtly paints her life as "Samantha Caine, girlfriend and mother" as more fulfilling and worthy than that of "Charly Baltimore, Bad-Ass Spy".  I'm sure for some women it would be a more fulfilling life, but not all, whereas the movie kind of treats it as axiomatic that motherhood trumps everything else.

Despite these issues though, I still enjoyed the film, and if you want a rock 'em sock 'em action movie, it's definitely got you covered.

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