• Midnight Run



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: August 23rd, 2016.
    Director: Martin Brest
    Cast: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, Dennis Farina, John Ashton
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Martin Brest in 1988, Midnight Run tells the story of a former cop named Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) who, since leaving the force, makes his living as a bounty hunter. When he gets a job offer from a bail bondsman named Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano) to capture a wanted man named Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin) he figures it’ll be an easy way to earn himself a nice hundred thousand dollar paycheck. What did Mardukas do? He swindled a cool fifteen million in cash from a mobster named Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina), and then gave it all away to charity!

    At any rate, Jack he agrees to take the job and heads to Chicago to find The Duke. He’s got five days to grab him and haul him back to Los Angeles in one piece. But this isn’t going to be easy, of course. Not only are Jimmy Serrano’s thugs out to see The Duke sleep with the fishes, but an F.B.I. agent named Alonzo Mosely (Yaphet Kotto) is out to get him and bring him in for questioning. Walsh finds The Duke pretty easily, cuffing the poor bastard and getting him prepped for the trip back home, but it’s that trip back home that’s going to be tough. Not only is Mardukas a crafty loudmouth, but he’s capable of some seriously slippery behavior. On top of that, another bounty hunter named Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton) is out to swipe Walsh’s paycheck out from under him.

    Midnight Run might sound like a typical comedic road movie but it’s got a lot more to it than is evident at first glance. A big part of what makes it work so well is the character development. Jack Walsh seems like a total cliché at first, a tough ex-cop trying to make ends meet, a bounty hunter type quick to use his fists. And in many ways he is, but the script lets us get to know him. The same thing happens with Mardukas. We don’t really ever see him commit the crime he’s accused of, we only really deal with the aftermath here, but as the story plays out and we learn more and more about these two men, their respective motivations become clear and their relationship more realistically defined. In short, despite their flaws, we like them and because we like them and want to know more about them, and for those reasons travelling half way across the country with these guys is a kick.

    Of course, all the good writing and character development in the world isn’t going to help if the performances aren’t up to snuff. Thankfully, we’re in great hands here. Yaphet Kotto is awesome as the determined F.B.I. agent and Dennis Farina is perfect as the mobster in the film. Joe Pantoliano has enough of a ‘natural greaseball’ vibe about him that he’s an excellent choice to play a bondsman as he does in the film, and John Ashton couldn’t be better as Jack Walsh’s chief rival. It is, however, the chemistry shared by DeNiro and Grodin that is the real backbone of the movie. Both of these guys are in their element here, playing equally quirky characters without overdoing it or making it ever feel unnatural.

    Additionally, the movie has plenty of appreciable technical polish. Danny Elfman’s sore, which is instantly identifiable as his work, is a much better fit for the film than you might imagine it to be, while the cinematography is excellent across the board. The pace is right on, the film looks great from start to finish and it’s really well edited too. This is one of those mainstream Hollywood films that gets everything right, never playing to the lowest common denominator the way so many of them do. Midnight Run hits all the right notes and rightfully deserves its status as a classic of eighties cinema.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Midnight Run arrives on Blu-ray from Shout Factory’s new Shout! Select line in new an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation taken from a new 2k scan of the interpositive that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85.1 widescreen. This is a very nice looking transfer that shows very good detail and nice depth in both closeup shots and long distance shots alike. Colors look nice and natural here, while black levels are nice and deep. There’s virtually no print damage at all outside of the occasional small white speck that most won’t likely even notice in the first place. Grain is present, as you’d hope, but never distracting while the image remains free of any digital noise reduction or compression artifacts. This is nice and film-like, fans of the film should be very pleased with the visuals on this release.

    English language DTS-HD options are provided in 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo options with subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 mix sounds pretty front heavy, mainly using the rear channels to occasionally spread out the Danny Elfman score and the effects work, but those who appreciate surround sound remixes will enjoy this for what it is. Purists will likely be more pleased with the stereo option which seems to have a little bit more power behind it. Regardless of which option you go for, and it’s always nice to have a choice, expect properly balanced levels and clean, clear dialogue. The score sounds nice, it’s more succinct and has more clarity here than it ever did on DVD, and both tracks are free of any hiss or distortion.

    Extras are comprised of a pretty impressive selection of featurettes starting with an ‘interview’ with Robert DeNiro called Being Jack Walsh. Though this runs over eight minutes, DeNiro’s input only makes up about two minutes of the piece’s running time, the rest is clips and narration. More interesting is We've Got The Duke which is a considerably more involved interview with Charles Grodin that runs just over twelve minutes. He’s got more to say about his experiences on working on the picture and speaks here about getting the part and working with some of his co-stars on the picture. Moscone Bail Bonds gets actor Joe Pantoliano in front of the camera for a fourteen minute chat about his character, his experiences on set and his thoughts on the film in general. Josh Ashton shows up in Hey Marvin!, a seventeen minute talk where he covers similar ground, giving us an overview of his involvement in the film, thoughts on the picture’s success, actors he shared the screen with and more. I'm Mosely! is a pretty fun in interview with Yaphet Kotto that runs just over seven minutes. This one is an audio interview that plays out over a still picture but it’s still cool to have it here and get his input and memories on the making of the film. Writer George Gallo goes last with Midnight Writer, a lengthy twenty-five minute talk where he goes into a lot of detail about where some of the story ideas came from, how he got into writing for film, his thoughts on some of the story elements and what he was going for when writing the script for this particular film.

    The disc also includes a seven minute long vintage "Making Of" featurette (essentially an EPK, though there is some interesting footage in here which makes it worth checking out), the film’s original theatrical trailer, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    It’s amazing just how well Midnight Run holds up. This is one of those films you can see over and over again and continue to enjoy thanks to the clever script, the fun characters and the excellent performances. Shout! Factory has done an excellent job bringing the film to Blu-ray, giving Midnight Run an excellent technical presentation and including a nice array of supplemental material to accompany it. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!