Director Martin Brest followed up the huge success of Beverly Hills Cop with another action-comedy, Midnight Run. Brest’s deft touch behind the camera makes the buddy movie a fun romp, even if it is very much a product of ‘80s Hollywood.
Robert DeNiro is Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter charged with tracking down Jonathan ‘The Duke’ Mardukas (Grodin), an on-the-run accountant who has embezzled $15 million from Mob boss (Dennis Farina). Walsh must get The Duke back to Los Angeles – which is easier said than done when he’s got the mob, the FBI and a rouge bounty hunter (John Ashton) on his tail.
As a director, Martin Brest has always been able to surprise. From the funky fizz of Beverly Hills Cop, the oscar-winning drama of Scent of A Woman through to the majestic sweep of Meet Joe Black, Brest is a filmmaker who can take a commercial prospect and make it seem like a personal project. He may have hit a commercial and critical wall with Gigli (not as bad as they’d have you believe) but he’s a director who makes every film worthwhile.
Brest makes the most of George Gallo’s script, using it to fire sparks between DeNiro and Grodin. This is as close as DeNiro has ever come to making a traditional ‘movie star’ movie and he embraces the opportunity, attacking the role with a fervour which makes you wonder what would have happened if he’d stayed on that trajectory. Meanwhile, Grodin’s sardonic style makes the perfect comic foil to DeNiro’s straight man.
Strangely, the one thing that lets Brest’s film down is Danny Elfman’s score. It’s just too light, never hitting the right tone. Gunfights, car-chases and moments of high drama never really feel dangerous because Elfman’s jaunty score keeps reminding you that this is a comedy. It may have worked well in 1988 but it doesn’t hold-up today.
Midnight Run is a fun buddy movie, from a decade filled with great ones like it.Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin have good chemistry and Martin Brest makes great use of George Gallo’s well structured script. It may have aged in the near thirty years since its release but this is a prime piece of entrainment made by people at the top of their game.
Second Sight gives you what you want from this Blu-ray release – and more. You get interviews with Charles Grodin, Joe Pantoliano, John Ashton and George Gallo. It also comes with an audio interview with Yaphet Kotto and a vintage ‘Making Midnight Run‘ featurette. Scorching.