Midnight Run is a fantastic buddy-buddy action comedy and one of many films at the time which bore the extreme brunt of TV censorship in the ’90s when they couldn’t handle the f-word – even late at night, so a particular exchange ended, “Shut the *HELL* up!”
Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano) needs Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) to track down crooked accounted Jonathan Mardukas, aka The Duke (Charles Grodin) – who ripped off mobster Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina) for $15m – and bring him in, since he has a bail bond out on him worth $450,000 and there’s just five days left until the bond defaults and Moscone is potless. The only clue to his whereabouts, so to speak, is that Grodin is royally taking the youknowwhat by sending postcards to Serrano from wherever he goes.
Almost every line of dialogue is a gem (certainly every comic exchange), and the interplay between the characters is perfect with every little nuance left in, often feeling like the cast were told they were allowed to improvise and the camera was left rolling to see what movie gold was picked up (and for John Ashton – who plays rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler – his interview in the extras is testament to this as he recalls working with director Martin Brest on Beverly Hills Cop). Examples include Jack and Jonathan’s conversations on public transport, and the scene featuring two of Serrano’s lackeys where Tony’s on a public payphone (remember those?) to their boss, while Joey is trying to shadow-box him and looking like a complete dick, but coming out of it with a hilarious scene!
And another example comes when Jack is being watched by Joey:
- Jack: “Are you gonna propose?”
Jack: “Propose, ‘cos if you’re not, quit staring at me.”
Throughout the film, the pair are constantly evading the police – leading to police car chases reminscent of The Blues Brothers and Smokey And The Bandit, Yaphet Kotto makes for a great mean and moody cop boss, there are a zillion uses of “son of a bitch” – plus other swears, and what’s the deal with Jack’s crappy watch?
Midnight Run would easily pass for a 15-cert these days. In fact, I struggle to see why it’s an 18-cert as there’s no graphic violence in it, just the endless strong language, yet none of it feels excessive.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition. The print is crystal clear like a modern film during daytime scenes, but occasionally a little hazy during the night time ones. It looks like any such problems in the latter are down to the original print and not with this transfer, hence this is a very pleasing image to view and I’ll give it full marks on that basis.
The sound is in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and there’s nothing in the way of surround sound effects, but then it wasn’t originally made with a 5.1 soundtrack so I’m not sure why there is one on this disc. However, Danny Elfman‘s score is an absolute treat and really evokes the period of when it was made.
The extras are as follows:
- Interviews: Five sizable and worthy interviews, mixing chat from the interviewees with clips from the film. There’s Charles Grodin (12:27), talking about how he came to be in the film and talking to Laurence Olivier, amongst other things, but he does seem to ramble a lot without much direction.
There’s also Joe Pantoliano (14:24) – making reference to a proposed sequel without the same writer/director partnership and how that wouldn’t be a great idea as the two of them worked great together; John Ashton (17:27), who confirmed that ad-libbing was the way to go when he filmed Beverly Hills Cop with Martin Brest; screenwriter George Gallo (24:48) and an audio interview with Yaphet Kotto (7:36). All video interviews are in 16:9 and HD.
It’s a shame there’s no interview with De Niro, here.
- Making Midnight Run (7:26): An original promo made at the time of filming, shot in 4:3. Mixing in clips from the film with chat from the cast and crew, this is one of the things I like finding most in the extras – something made a long time ago which might otherwise have been lost or left on the shelf, and now is preserved for posterity.
There are 16 chapters on this disc – better than the usual 12 most distributors give. I would always recommend one every 5 minutes, but any improvement’s a good thing.
Subtitles are in English, while the main menu mixes clips from the film with the wonderful theme.
Midnight Run is out now on Blu-ray, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Running time: 126 mins
Released: April 20th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Martin Brest
Producer: Martin Brest
Screenplay: George Gallo
Music: Danny Elfman
Jack Walsh: Robert De Niro
Jonathan Mardukas: Charles Grodin
Alonzo Mosely: Yaphet Kotto
Marvin Dorfler: John Ashton
Jimmy Serrano: Dennis Farina
Eddie Moscone: Joe Pantoliano
Tony Darvo: Richard Foronjy
Joey: Robert Miranda
Jerry Geisler: Jack Kehoe
Gail: Wendy Phillips
Denise: Danielle DuClos
Sidney: Philip Baker Hall
Red Wood: Thom McCleister
Bus Ticket Clerk: Mary Gillis
Monroe Bouchet: John Toles-Bey
Sergeant Gooch: Thomas J Hageboeck
Stanley: Stanley White
Boy on Plane: Scott McAfee
Car Rental Clerk: Linda Margules
Airline Ticket Clerk: Martin Brest (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.