Midnight Run arrives on Blu-ray
The classic 1988 road comedy, Midnight Run, makes its welcome Blu-ray debut. Never missing out on the chance to revisit an old-time favourite, this new release comes with a range of brand new extras including newly filmed interviews with the cast and crew, giving fresh perspective on the making of a much-overlooked modern classic.
For fans of this buddy comedy/road movie gem, this version presents the best opportunity to catch it in all its glory. For anyone who never saw the film, it remains one of the sharpest, funniest and best written buddy comedies of its era and a highly underrated pairing for leads Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, backed by a great cast including Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Joe Pantoliano, Dennis Farina and more.
Revisiting the film on Blu-ray, its a reminder of how all those crucial ingredients, and the actors’ chemistry was so potent and came together so well, in no small part thanks to producer/director Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop, Scent of a Woman) and the razor sharp script of George Gallo (Wiseguys, Bad Boys).
From firing up the menu, alone, the memorable theme music from composer Danny Elfman brings back memories watching the movie countless times during my formative years, spanning VHS, DVD and now Blu-ray. Any staple of the collection through all these formats surely gets the seal of approval. As such a big release of its day (going head-to-head with Die Hard during opening weekend), this original film even spawned TV movie sequels and a long in-development remake. However, everyone will agree that the 1988 version remains a gem that could never be bettered.
In the story, bounty hunter Jack Walsh (De Niro) has a new assignment, one that could set him up for retirement. He's just got to get bail-jumping accountant Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Grodin) back to LA by Friday midnight, but he's not the only one on his trail. The Duke's embezzled $15 million from the mob who want him dead, while the FBI want him to testify and, five minutes in his company, Jack just wants him to shut up! Evading cops, federal agents and gangsters, the pair must get safely to LA as the unlikeliest of travel companions.
The Blu-ray undoubtedly offers the best version of the film and is therefore essential for long-time fans. The transfer is very good and while the sharpness unfortunately drops during certain scenes, its still a definite upgrade from the DVD. The sound mix and music are very strong, however, and really heighten the viewing experience through both the climactic action and dialogue scenes.
For me, the real bonuses on this release are the brand new interviews with Charles Grodin, Joe Pantoliano, John Ashton, writer George Gallo, an audio-only interview with Yaphet Kotto and the original "Making Midnight Run" promo. Considering the bare bones previous versions, this is a unique and fascinating opportunity to hear from the principle players (minus Brest and De Niro of course) and the retrospective angle makes for some very insightful conversations. Despite the level of talent on the film, they had no idea of the cult status and growing audience the film would accumulate over the years. Very interesting in itself.
In my view, this film, team and its very formula represents a now-historic era of filmmaking when, at least for me, the quality of "mainstream" cinema was arguably so much better. In Midnight Run, the calibre of script (also utilising some great improv), story structure, director and substantial acting talent all combine to create a kind of creative chemistry which we don't often see these days, based on marketable studio formulas, shying away from commercial “risks” and a plethora of other factors. This is all the more reason to continue enjoying and taking inspiration from this type of work. It's a film which can absolutely be enjoyed again and again and, aided by the upscaled transfer and new interviews, the Blu-ray offers the best platform to experience it.
Also, click here for my exclusive interview with writer George Gallo discussing his career and experiences making this modern classic.
Midnight Run is available on Blu-ray from 20 April from Second Sight.