This 1988 action comedy still remains very high on my favourites list. It’s my Father’s favourite movie and I watched it many times with him when I was a kid.
Directed by Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop) with an all-star cast featuring Robert DeNiro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, Dennis Farina, Joe Pantoliano and John Ashton, Midnight Run is about as high a recommend that I can give for a comedy of this calibre and time period. Easily slotting itself amongst the very best of the genre in the 80’s.
DeNiro stars as disgraced ex-cop Jack Walsh, ostracised by not allowing himself to be corrupted by other cops on the take, whom has now taken on the much more maligned profession of Bounty Hunter. Taking on a “Midnight Run” job from a client, a high paying, seemingly easy job that will allow him to get out of the game and retire. Walsh is sent in to locate and bring back a former Mafia Accountant, Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Grodin), who is on the run from both the FBI and the Mafia. Walsh, using his ingenuity, locates Mardukas and captures him for transport back to his client. Nothing goes to plan with the FBI, the Mafia and even the Duke himself thwarting Walsh’s plans at every turn. Walsh and Mardukas eventually form a bond and yada yada ya…. you know where this is going.
Whilst not the most original of plots and the predictability levels through the roof, it really doesn’t matter at all. Just look at the cast! This film has everyone at the top of their game. DeNiro’s vitriolic personality towards Grodin throughout the film is hilarious and while trying to show how tough he is and that he doesn’t care about his quarry’s personal comfort in their journey, he constantly lets slip his true nature. Grodin plays the annoying, niggling, nagging, criminal so well you sometimes want to reach through the screen and choke him out yourself. He’s like a little kid, who asks a question, doesn’t get an answer so just keeps on asking, and asking. From this, you could fully understand Jack Walsh’s rage building up. This only feeds Jack into goading the FBI himself and almost teasing them with how many steps behind him they are, most importantly Special Agent Alonso Mosely (Kotto). Mosely’s frustration at being hoodwinked by Jack at every turn soon comes to boiling point. Adding to this already tangled web of deceit is another Bounty Hunter, Marvin (John Ashton – Beverly Hills Cop) trying to steal away Jack’s big score from under his nose and Dennis Farina as …you guessed it….. a Mafia Don also having his own henchmen on the trail.
The calamity caused by so many opposing parties vying for the same prize creates a relentless pace throughout the entire duration of the film. There are no meandering soul searching bits, even the one part in the film where Jack attempts to reconnect with his daughter has it’s moments of awkward laughs. Joe Pantoliano’s very sleazy, double-dealing loan shark has a moment where he errupts in a fit of rage over the phone in a crowded mall that had me crippled with hysterics as a youngster.
Sure the film follows a well trodden formula, but what it does is among the best of its kind. If you’ve never watched Midnight Run and are looking for an 80′s classic comedy to break up this months Halloween Horror bonanza on Eat Sleep Live Film, then this is the film for you!