Plot: What’s it about?
Shout Factory recently has started releasing a line of films under Shout Select. Mostly the films are well-known and loved movies from the eighties including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Road House, Buckaroo Banzai, and Midnight Run. I have been a big fan of Shout Factory over the years and am glad to see that these films are landing in such capable hands. One of the films I was most excited to acquire was Midnight Run starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. This film is regarded as a classic of the buddy action comedy genre, helping to inspire later films like Pineapple Express and countless others.
The film follows Jack Walsh (De Niro) a Chicago cop turned bounty hunter as he tries to bring Jonathan Mardukas (Grodin) across the country to his bail bondsman Eddie Moscone (Joe Pontoliano.) Mardukas was an accountant for mobster Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina) and stole millions of dollars and donated it all to charity. Eddie has promised Jack $100,000 to bring Mardukas back to Los Angeles by midnight on Friday, thus a midnight run. Given that the mob, another bounty hunter named Marvin (John Ashton,) and the FBI led by Alonzo Mosley (Yaphet Kotto) all want to get their hands on Mardukas, Jack has his hands full for the duration of the film.
Midnight Run has deservedly earned its classic status. The chemistry between Grodin and DeNiro is comedic perfection. They play off of each other as well as Glover and Gibson or DeNiro and Crystal. The movie is very cleverly written with great turns by the entire cast, and with such great talent it really is an ensemble. I really enjoyed the villainous Jimmy Serrano as played by Dennis Farina. At the time he was known mainly for playing policemen, but this would lead to great roles in Get Shorty and Snatch. The movie flows at a good pace and comes to a logical and satisfying conclusion. If I was going to say that there is one weak spot, it would be that the film is slightly over two hours long and could have used a bit of trimming here or there. Also, the film doesn’t worry too much about realism when it comes to some of the chase elements. That said, it is such a fun and funny movie that I can’t imagine anybody disliking it.
Martin Brest does a capable job of directing and would only use his chops in directing a few more times, most notably in Scent of a Woman starring Pacino. George Gallo would go on to write numerous films including Bad Boys. This movie proved that DeNiro had chops for a true comedy, and all they had to do was have him play it straight to get the laughs. If you haven’t seen Midnight Run, it is absolutely worth your time.
Video: How’s it look?
Several years ago Shout! Factory brought this to Blu-ray under their Shout Select line. I remember being fairly pleased with the new transfer found on that disc. Here we are a few years later and now we’ve got a 4K version of the film, the first time I might add. The bottom line – is it worth the upgrade for the 4K image? In a word…no. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good-looking film and the 1.85:1 HEVC 4K image does have a few advantages over its Blu-ray counterpart. Colors seem a bit more balanced, detail has been raised just a tick and I found the black levels a bit more stable. As is usually the case with catalog films given the 4K treatment – it’s a step up (and in the right direction) but don’t expect miracles.
Audio: How’s it sound?
A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds good though not overwhelmingly immersive. Given that this film comes from the Eighties it is limited in the use of surrounds. That said the music and dialogue are crystal clear and well balanced. There is nothing to dislike here, even if it is not going to exactly blow anybody away.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Interview with Robert De Niro – This is a bit of a facade to call this an interview because DeNiro is only on screen very briefly interposed with quick video clips of the film narrated by somebody else. I would skip this feature.
- We’ve Got the Duke: An Interview with Actor Charles Grodin – This is a solid interview with the incredibly interesting Grodin.
- Moscone Bail Bonds: An Interview with Actor Joe Pantolian – another solid interview. Worth your time.
- Hey Marvin: An Interview with Actor John Ashton – this interview is pretty entertaining and funny, with the actor smoking a big cigar on a golf course.
- I’m Mosely!: An Interview with Actor Yaphet Kotto – This is an audio only interview with the actor.
- Midnight Writer: An Interview with Writer George Gallo – the best feature on the disc. A very interesting discussion with the writer of the film who discusses how at one point they actually were feeling pressure to give Grodin’s part to Cher!
- Vintage “Making of” Featurette – an archival EPK.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Midnight Run is an absolute blast. DeNiro and Grodin are great in the film and are surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast. If, for some reason, you didn’t pony up the funds to grab this on Blu-ray, then this is certainly the version to get. But as far as upgrades go, I’d stick with what you’ve got if Shout’s Blu-ray is already a part of your collection.