Samantha Caine's an amnesiac suburban wife. Her violent past surfaces, however, when rogue US intelligence agents recognise her as sometime assassin Charly Baltimore, missing for years and believed dead. By amazing coincidence, just as her ex-colleagues decide to protect their current dirty-tricks scam by terminating her, Sam/Charly starts having flashbacks to her former self. She's also nudged along by fragments of evidence uncovered by low-rent private eye and reluctant sidekick Mitch Henessey (Jackson). So when the bad guys' sadistic henchman (Bierko) kidnaps her 8-year-old daughter, Sam hacks off her long dark hair and emerges with a dyed blonde bob, a really bad attitude and a weapons training that's second to none. The film's unconventional only in the sense that, as visualised by Harlin, the $4m script by Shane Black dispenses entirely with traditional story-telling techniques. Instead, this violent escapist fantasy detonates a string of atomised action sequences so knowingly ironic that they aspire to the condition of post-modern pastiche. The only saving graces are Davis's stripped-down, mean-as-a-wildcat portrayal of the Uzi-toting Charly, and Jackson's engagingly ineffectual turn. Like Charly's alter ego, however, you may have trouble remembering what happened once it's all over.
Cast and crew
Samuel L Jackson