I had a rough night trying to find a thriller I hadn't seen. Started watching Clooney's The American, 3 minutes in it loses me by him killing an unarmed girl for no reason. Skipped to the end to get it out of my queue and there's another dead girl, so presumably he just does that a lot. If you kill a dog or an unarmed girl in a flick, I have zero sympathy.
Started watching the Barry series, which immediately pivots from low-rent killer premise to actors playing at learning to act for Hollywood, because actors are the most interesting people… no. They're fucking walking meatsticks, and best case they hit their marks and say their lines, and shut the fuck up otherwise.
So I gave up and watched something I've seen multiple times, but I know is not crap: The Long Kiss Goodnight, by Shane Black.
Now, the one real problem with this film. What I find implausible isn't the soap opera amnesia/MPD, it's that a homeless woman with no paperwork or cash comes out of the ocean and she's immediately able to get a teaching job, a house, raise a kid, have a square life.
Geena Davis & Sam Jackson are cute, of course, and Geena does a plausible turn as an assassin with mom-butt, but Craig Bierko as the antagonist really steals the show. He hasn't been in anything good since The Thirteenth Floor (1999), I mean literally nothing but soap opera, reality TV, and Scary Movie 4 garbage, just a dumpster fire of a career, but here he's just adorable, smirking and lounging around while still being obviously psychotic, he's got crazy eyes and perfect delivery.
Oh. I'd forgotten this film, from 1996, basically lays out the plan for the CIA faking 9/11 to get their budget increased. Kill 4,000 people. "Oh, blame it on the Muslims, naturally." Yeah, I dunno IRL if they did it, maybe just gave the Saudis a little push?, but the CIA had motive, means, opportunity, and they're all soulless spooks, so this checks out.
There's a lot of points where the plot makes no sense, you'd just kill someone this annoying and get on with your mission. All the deathtraps, and leaving someone to be tortured (it is the CIA, and they love to torture), and kid hostage scenes, are just Shane Black shane-blacking it up. Standard tricks: 1) Teddy bear has a secret, 2) Running & shooting at a helicopter, 3) Exploded safely out of a house (not in a bathtub this time), 4) Tied up and water-tortured, 5) Kid is a hostage.
Unique tricks: 1) Escape from the freezer, I like the callback to the doll and the vigil candles, as I'm a sucker for inventory puzzles from text adventures. 2) The ice skating kills. 3) Way back at the beginning, One-Eye Jack freaking out at the TV.
Unfortunately some of it relies on the kid (Yvonne Zima, worst surname ever, who now plays soap opera & B-movie victims and hookers), and she has a formless, dumpy look and personality, and maybe they sedated her to get her to hold still, so it's utterly implausible that she grows a spine in one scene. Shouting "you can't be dead" at someone doesn't actually bring them back to life, that only works for Tinker Bell.
You'd think the Canadians would have somebody guarding a major border crossing, especially if there's an overturned tanker and a bunch of US pigs on the other side, even if it's just to offer donuts and say "So I see ya got an overturned tanker, eh?" But no Canadians could be arsed to show up.
I don't buy the Charly personality going back in the box as "Samantha" again. She might compromise to raise the dumpy kid, but there's no way she's back on the PTA and marrying the boring white dude.
Didn't quite earn the ½ for rising above cliché, but it's a perfectly fine shoot-em-up.