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Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) is a tough ex-cop turned bounty hunter. Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin) is a sensitive accountant who embezzled $15 million from the Mob, gave it to charity and then jumped bail. Jack's in for a cool $100,000 if he can deliver The Duke from New York to L.A. on time. And alive. Sounds like just another Midnight Run (a piece of cake in bounty hunter slang), but it turns into a cross-country chase. The FBI is after The Duke to testify - the Mob is after him for revenge - and Walsh is after him to just shut up. If someone else doesn't do the job, the two unlikely partners may end up killing each other in this hilarious, action-filled blockbuster from producer-director Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop).
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THE STORY (contains spoilers): De Niro plays Jack Walsh, a former cop now making a living as a bounty hunter, but looking to get out of the business and retire. He sees an opportunity to do just that with his latest assignment: the apprehension & return of Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (a perfectly cast Charles Grodin), a former mob accountant who jumped bail and is worth a cool $100,000 to Jack IF the man can be brought back before his bond defaults. For a man of Walsh's skills, finding "The Duke" is easy... returning him on time and in one piece is another matter altogether because brutish Vegas mobster Jimmy Serrano, (the Duke's former employer, who also has a complicated past with De Niro's Walsh), wants Mardukas torpedoed for what he did and for what he knows about Serrano's operations. On top of that, the Feds will do anything to capture Mardukas because his invaluable testimony would send Serrano & his goons up the river for good. This job will set Walsh up for the rest of his life... or end it.
THOUGHTS: Prior to this film, who knew Robert De Niro was so damn funny? MIDNIGHT RUN helped launch a second career for the well-established big screen tough guy, whose previous work always seemed to be lethal mafioso-types and/or creepy heavies. Ultra-dry Charles Grodin proves to be the the pitch perfect foil for the gruff, loutish De Niro, who also receives occasional visits from FBI Agent Alonso Mosely (an eternally frustrated Yaphett Kotto). Mob boss Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina), has perhaps the two stupidest flunkies this side of Moe Howard; both of whom spend the entire film's running time bungling one assassination attempt after another on Walsh & The Duke. Also figuring heavily in the plot is Joe Pantoliano, as weaselly, apoplectic bail-bondsman Eddie Mascone. Lastly, we can't forget Eddie's back-up bounty hunter, the not quite so bright Marvin Dorfler, wonderfully underplayed by John Ashton (Beverly Hills Cop). Terrific casting, excellent acting all around and a smart script to work from make this film a delight to watch. Honestly you could just watch De Niro & Grodin sitting around talking for the whole film and it would still be entertaining. They play off each other that well. Too bad they didn't do more films together. Additionally, when the two aren't at each other's throats they're caught up in some pretty terrific big screen action sequences that are energetic, logical within the context of the story and very well staged, with more than enough explosions, shootouts and car chases to satisfy even hardcore 80's action junkies.
THE BLU-RAY: For this new hi-def release from Shout!Factory the film received a 2k scan from the film's interpositive element. Resultant audio & video are both pretty strong BUT there is noticeable crush (video noise), and some pixelation in low light scenes. Not enough to detract from owning this, but you should be aware. Audio is clear, clean and mostly level. The Blu-ray comes loaded with some decent extras, including new individual on-camera interviews with most of the main cast, a vintage "Making of" featurette and a copy of the film's theatrical trailer. All-in-all a very respectable release that should please MIDNIGHT RUN fans, of which I am one.
DeNiro plays Jack Walsh, an ex-cop from Chicago now working full time as a bounty hunter. He's good at his trade, but down-on-his-luck as he still misses his ex-wife who left him for a crooked cop. When his bail bond employer played by Joe Pantoliano asks him to go get the Duke back in 5 days time, Jack says no. The Duke, played by Grodin, went on the run with millions of dollars he took from a Chicago mobster (You'll love what he does with most of the money too). DeNiro doesn't believe the Duke is worth his time, but when Pantoliano offers him 100k, Jack says all right.
Also in the fold is the mob, who want the Duke dead or alive, and Marvin, a fellow bounty hunter also competing with Jack. The movie is full of funny quips, great scenery as they travel from LA to NYC, and back to LA. Yaphet Kotto is a federal agent who wants the Duke too, and can't stand burnout cops like Jack Walsh, but Jack is good at his job, and when he captures the Duke and begins the journey back to LA, the laughter begins as Jack and the Duke form a bond that sets the motion for funny and exciting chase scenes.
Robert De Niro is simply amazing as the bounty hunter and Charles Grodin does it superbly as the irritating accountant or bounty. I also loved the character of Alonzo Mosely.
The movie's direction, editing and acting by every single character makes it so real that you actually start believing all of the chase and deceit is possible! It's a classic and deserves to be in everyone's all time favorites list.