Midnight Run

Midnight Run


Mar­tin Brest’s Mid­night Run is an appeal­ing­ly loose com­e­dy built on a sol­id premise. It’s a clas­sic, almost clichéd Hol­ly­wood sce­nario: Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) is one of the world’s last hon­est cops, reward­ed for his integri­ty by divorce and demo­tion to the humil­i­at­ing (and dan­ger­ous) lev­el of boun­ty hunter. His han­dler Eddie Moscone (Joe “Joey Pants” Pan­to­liano) rais­es the lucra­tive prospect of One Last Job: to escort chief wit­ness Jonathan Mar­dukas (Charles Grodin) in a fed­er­al mob case across the coun­try, pur­sued both by the feds (led by the impos­ing and per­pet­u­al­ly aggriev­ed Yaphet Kot­to) and the mob (the age­less Den­nis Fari­na) alike.

Midnight RunIt’s for you

Walsh has per­son­al busi­ness with mob boss Ser­ra­no, and so the task quick­ly becomes a jour­ney of the soul for him. The tem­plate is 3:10 to Yuma: an intel­li­gent, artic­u­late “bad guy” trav­els with gruff and seri­ous “good guy” with mon­ey prob­lems and deep-seat­ed resent­ment for being pun­ished for his hon­esty. But all this is beside the point. The true plea­sure of the movie, and the cause of its con­tin­ued cult appeal, is all in the actors’ inter­play. Grodin has all the hilar­i­ous dia­log, much of it with the feel of impro­vi­sa­tion. In con­trast, De Niro seems only equipped to con­tin­u­al­ly retort with “Shut the fuck up,” per­haps by choice to be true to his char­ac­ter as opposed to a fail­ure of cre­ativ­i­ty. Why has Grodin been in so few movies?

Midnight RunYaphet Kot­to does not suf­fer fools light­ly

Also of inter­est is an ear­ly score by Dan­ny Elf­man, lat­er to gain a rep­u­ta­tion for whim­si­cal fan­ta­sy music for Tim Bur­ton and The Simp­sons. Brest, the direc­tor of Bev­er­ly Hills Cop, stages a mas­sive mul­ti-car chase approach­ing the absurd­ly fun­ny lev­els of The Blues Broth­ers.

Mid­night Run is actu­al­ly not all that fun­ny a com­e­dy, not that thrilling a thriller, nor that pen­e­trat­ing a char­ac­ter study. But it is nev­er­the­less great fun to watch, and cry­ing out for a sequel.

Must read: the orig­i­nal Mid­night Run shoot­ing script

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

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