Release Date(s)1988 (August 23, 2016)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout! Factory/Shout Select)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Filmmaker Martin Brest was on a roll several years before he decided to stop directing. He had three hit films back to back and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. After the runaway success of Beverly Hills Cop, which made Eddie Murphy one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, and later helming the Academy Award winning Scent of a Woman in 1992, Brest tackled Midnight Run, which stands today as one of the most enjoyable action/comedy films of its time, if not all time. It did fairly well at the box office and was well received by critics, but it wasn’t as big a hit as it probably should have been, despite being well-represented in trailers and TV spots. It also managed to spawn three made for TV movies, none of which featured the original cast or crew.
Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) is an ex-cop who’s now a bounty hunter looking to bring in one last score before getting out of the business altogether. His target, Jon “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin), an ex-mob accountant in hiding. However, transporting The Duke from New York to Los Angeles isn’t going to be an easy task. Jack will have to outwit and avoid a couple of goons sent by a mob boss (Dennis Farina), a rival bounty hunter (John Ashton), a double-crossing bail bondsman (Joe Pantoliano), and a tough as nails F.B.I. agent (Yaphet Kotto), all of whom are out to get their hands on The Duke as well. And even if Jack can manage to pull it off, The Duke may drive him nuts before he can get him there.
Midnight Run is one of those films that’s difficult to talk about academically without simply gushing with love for it. As far as how it was made, it was being altered constantly during production, which can often make a film feel more alive than mechanical if the right people are behind the camera. There’s an energy in the performances and the film’s momentum that you don’t often get by simply executing the script and doing pick-ups later. Having the writer on set helped tremendously in that regard. The performances are all terrific throughout and everybody has their time to shine, making it almost feel like a play at times more so than a film. But the biggest draw is the chemistry between De Niro and Grodin, which makes it a delight to watch. Simply put, it’s a solid piece of entertainment.
Shout Select presents Midnight Run with a fresh 2K scan of the film’s interpositive element. Although it’s been released on Blu-ray in other territories, this is probably going to be the definitive release to own as far as the A/V quality is concerned. It features mostly even grain levels, which is variable in a few scenes, but solid elsewhere. There are much higher levels of fine detail than ever before, particularly during daytime scenes. Color reproduction is quite strong without overtly popping, although skin tones are a tad too pink, but black levels are deep. Shadow detail is high, but it’s a little hampered by its source material, so you’re practically seeing everything that you were meant to. Brightness and contrast levels are also pleasing. It’s also clean and stable with no notable signs of damage leftover. For the audio, two tracks are available: English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD. The 5.1, surprisingly, trumps its 2.0 counterpart, but only due to how much more spacing and surround activity there is comparatively. Ambient and LFE activity seem to have more of a part to play. On both tracks, dialogue is clean and well-prioritized while Danny Elfman’s upbeat score has plenty of life to it. The 2.0 track is good for what it is, but the 5.1 is marginally better overall. Subtitles are also included in English SDH for those who might need them.
In the supplemental department, everything from the Second Sight Blu-ray release has been included here as well. The only new addition is an “interview with Robert De Niro”, which is in quotes because the entire segment is about nine minutes long and only features a couple of minutes with De Niro total. Otherwise, there are some great interviews conducted by the folks from Severin Films. They include We’ve Got The Duke – an interview with actor Charles Grodin, Moscone Bail Bonds – an interview with actor Joe Pantoliano, Hey Marvin! – an interview with actor John Ashton, I’m Mosely! – an audio interview with actor Yaphet Kotto, and Midnight Writer – an interview with writer George Gallo. There’s also a vintage making of featurette and the shortened and more readily available theatrical trailer. Missing from this release is the longer trailer which features many alternate takes and a couple of deleted bits. Also missing are the film’s TV spots. Despite being absent, all of this material can be found on YouTube if you search around.
If anyone came up to me and told me that Midnight Run is a perfect film, I would have very little reason to argue with that. It’s almost a happy accident considering that both Cher and Robin Williams were almost in it at one point or another. It could have worked, but it would have been something vastly different. It’s also a film that I believe not enough people have seen or haven’t seen in years, and Shout Select’s release is the perfect way back into it. With a top notch presentation and great extras, it’s a must.
- Tim Salmons