Bounty Hunter, and ex-cop, Jack Walsh has to find and get mob embezzler, Jonathan ‘The Duke’ Mardukas across the country, back to L.A before midnight, Friday. Standing in his way are the FBI, the mob, and a fellow Bounty Hunter. Who will get The Duke first?
The buddy movie: a guilty pleasure? Two miss-matched characters forced to interact with each other, finding common ground and helping each other grow. I don’t know why I love these movies. I just do.
Midnight Run starts with Robert De Niro chasing down a criminal on a dark night, out of a crappy apartment building, into a dark alley, both shooting at each other. This could be any 80’s cop film. It’s even sound tracked by that smooth 80’s guitar sound, straight out of Lethal Weapon (I don’t know how to describe that any better, but you’ll know it when you hear it). Then De Niro’s ‘friend’ comes driving down the alley, knocking the criminal over with his car door, then tries to capture him himself. They humorously bicker over who’s getting the criminal, while the criminal looks bewildered. The music becomes upbeat; De Niro knocks out his friend, takes the criminal, steals his friend’s car, and drives off shouting a snarky one-liner.
I’m sorry for that boring description, but it sums up Midnight Run quite well. De Niro’s just trying to do his job, but people keep getting in his away, and when they get in his way, it’s funny and he betters them. Robert De Niro is great here, intense, funny, sarcastic and deep.
There are a lot of nice moments of dialogue between Grodin and De Niro, exploring both characters and their motives, allowing them to grow and become deeper characters, and making them both deeply likeable as people. Interspersed between these moments, are some over the top, yet really fun action scenes, such as hijacking a crop dusting plane, and a highway shootout that ends up in that classic ‘falling in the fast moving river, being rushed downstream, and needing to be rescued’ moment. A lot of the scenes in this movie are cliché, and are genre tropes, but they’re still fun and exciting to watch. The only thing I can’t get my head around is why Midnight Run has an 18 certificate. Yes there are guns, and shooting, and mafia, and drugs, but a lot of this movie could have also worked as a family friendly adventure. And I think that balance is it’s only real downfall.
Like a mix between Lethal Weapon and Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Midnight Run is funny, exciting, and at times heartfelt. And although it often confuses the balance, teetering on realistic human drama-comedy and over-the-top action pieces; it is a treat to watch.
Director: Martin Brest
Starring: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, Joe Pantoliano
Running Time: 126 Minutes
Release Date: 20th April 2015