Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
Mediocre Action Movie + Toronto + Sam Jackson = HELL YEAH!
Let’s get this out of the way: The Long Kiss Goodnight is not a good movie. It’s basically a vanity piece by director Renny Harlin for his wife, the statuesque Geena Davis. That said, it’s hard to hate any movie featuring Samuel L. Jackson—especially one in which he returns from the dead to save the day.
See, Geena is a happy housewife who (we soon find out) used to be a hardcore spy/assassin chick (code name: Charlie). She spends a bit of time trying to wonder why she can chop vegetables so well etc. but eventually learns her true identity, cuts and dyes her hair, and starts coming at the bad dudes trying to kill her. In the interim, she hires private dick Sam Jackson to help her on her quest.
Who knew Hamilton was such a Hollywood hotbed?
One of the film’s first big shootouts takes place in Hamilton’s LIUNA train station. The location may seem familiar to Reel Toronto readers, as it also played the Westchester Train Station in X-Men. Originally known as the James Street North station, the building is now rented out as an events venue.
Our tax credit program for films is just one of many Toronto bargains.
Charlie makes her big transition in an Atlantic City hotel room. But the filmmakers, already up here in T.O., figured there was little point going all the way to Jersey to shoot. After all, all you need is some bright lights, right?
Enter hometown landmark Honest Eds. Yup, our own bargain shop and the surrounding stretch of Bloor Street fill in surprisingly nicely for a seedy casino town strip.
Charlie is quickly pulled into a Mirvish Village alley, not to buy artwork, but rather to dispatch some killer baddies. Torontonians might find themselves pulled out of the scene, wondering if they actually have Biways in Atlantic City.
The alley in question is actually on the south side of Bloor, about halfway between Bathurst and Lippincott.
Not every building can claim to have been immortalized by Michael Ondaatje and Renny Harlin.
It just makes a brief and early peekaboo, but the RC Harris Filtration Plant, way out on Queen Street East, has a cameo as a state penitentiary. Part of our local mythology, largely thanks to Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, it’s one of the city’s most architecturally unique structures and it is always a big Doors Open destination.
The Canary may be gone but it is forever preserved in mediocre action movies like this one.
Also seen very briefly is the historic Canary Restaurant. Used in Blues Brothers 2000 as well, this 1950s diner near the Distillery District shut down a couple of years ago. That little corner of downtown, some of which is being cleaned up with the rest of the West Donlands, appears in flicks quite often as the proverbial Wrong Side of the Tracks.
With its fishing, cross-country skiing and evil headquarters facilties, Muskoka is your year-round resort destination of choice.
Charlie escapes from the baddies in a scene filmed at the Windermere House Resort, up in Muskoka. Alas, the current structure is new since the original, 100-year-old building burned down in 1996, during the filming. According to the fine folks at IMDB, the problems may have started with the lights used for filming but it’s not entirely clear who is to blame. The important thing is that it died for a good cause.
With cross-border shopping now rampant it is wise to ALWAYS declare what you have purchased while abroad.
The Long Kiss Goodnight is the most ridiculous cinematic depiction of the Canadian border starring Samuel L. Jackson since Die Hard 3 (“With a Vengeance,” natch). The finale takes place on the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, and you might think that, what with the trucks blowing up and stuff, a single customs officer—maybe even an OPP detachment—would wanna see what all the fuss is about. No dice. No Canadians.
The good news is that none are hurt when the entire bridge gets blown up real good, our heroes having safely escaped. No word on any damage to the great Duty Free shop they have there.
We can’t say for sure: this scene may or may not have been filmed in Toronto. But just look at how bad-ass Sam Jackson is! Totally bad-ass! Seriously, between all the time he spent filming movies here and his fondness for the colour purple, SLJ became quite the Raptors fan (note the shoutout in Jackie Brown). He should be an honorary mayor or something, despite having made The Man.
Anyway, that’s The Long Kiss Goodnight. Did you know that, at the time, it was the most money ever paid for a script? Well, it’s not the worst movie ever filmed in our fair city. Heck, it’s not even the worst Geena Davis/Renny Harlin collaboration! Hopefully that helps you sleep at night.