Title: Midnight Run (1988)
Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, Joe Pantoliano and Dennis Farina
Jack Walsh (De Niro) is a former cop from Chicago, who now works as a bounty-hunter in Los Angeles. He works on meagre fare until he is tasked with finding a man called Johnathan ‘The Duke’ Mardukas in New York and bringing him back to Los Angeles. Jack’s boss Eddie Moscone (Pantoliano) describes it as a ‘Midnight Run’, which is bounty hunter speak for an easy job. He also agrees to pay Jack 100,000 dollars for the job, at Jack’s insistence. The Duke is being taken to prison because he had stolen fifteen million dollars from a gangster named Jimmy Serrano (Farina) and then gave it away to charity. Serrano happens to know Jack from his days as a cop in Chicago and offers Jack the chance to turn him over, but he refuses. What transpires is a madcap trip across the entire United States, through various modes of transportation, all because Mardukas is afraid of flying (or so he says). Chased by goons, another bounty hunter and the FBI, Jack has a tough task ahead of him.
At this stage in his career De Niro was still very much a serious actor. He had touched on comedy a few times, but had never embraced it in such a big way before this film. Nowadays he is almost synonymous with ‘comedies’, but in 1988 this was quite a test for him. Thankfully his was a great performance as the cynical and short-tempered former cop. So good was his performance, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Charles Grodin was a revelation in this film and had unbelievable chemistry with De Niro. He is the star of the film, despite De Niro’s memorable role. His constant moaning and complaining is hilarious and De Niro’s reactions are wonderful. His sheepish grin and playful demeanour are a joy and he lights up the screen with the vivacity of his acting. Amazingly he was fifty-three at the time of this movie, an age you probably wouldn’t associate with him.
Yaphet Kotto is rock solid as usual as the imposing FBI agent, Alonzo Mosely. He is constantly outsmarted by Jack, yet he retains a measure of respect for him. Joe Pantoliano is at his sleazy best as Jack’s boss and Dennis Farina is believable in his mobster role. Also included is John Ashton who plays Marvin, who everyone should remember from the Beverly Hills Cop movies.
Midnight Run is a classic comedy that should have you laughing from beginning to end. There is not a single bad moment in the entire 126 minute running time. This film will be remembered for the quality performances and dynamite chemistry between the leads. Hilarious!