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John C. McGinley
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Bounty hunter Jack Walsh is sent to find and return bail jumper and former Mafia accountant, Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas. The FBI have had no success it locating The Duke, so when Jack finds him in next to no time, they are a little embarrassed. In order to collect his $100,000 fee, Jack must take The Duke from New York to Los Angeles. However, the Mafia and the FBI have other ideas, as does Marvin, a rival bounty hunter. On their long cross-country trip to LA, the two get to know each other and they build up a strange friendship. Written by
Charles Grodin has permanent scars resulting from the real handcuffs he had to wear for a great deal of the film. See more »
Meals for First Class Amtrak passengers (Jack has a bedroom) are included in the fare. Jack is seen paying for their meal in the dining car and miscalculating the tip. See more »
[Jack trying to pick door lock. He drops one of his picks. When he bends over to pick it up, a gun shot is fired through the door, right where his head had been previously]
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One of the best 'mismatched buddy' genre movies of the period
Jack Walsh is an ex-cop turned bounty hunter working for bail-bondsman Eddie Moscone. Looking for another job to bring in, Jack is presented with an ex-mob accountant, Jonathon Mardukas, who has ripped off the mafia for millions of dollars and has gone on the run. Using the very basic tricks of his trade, Jack easily finds and catches his man and prepares to transport him back to Moscone and collect his pay. However, with the FBI, the mafia and other bounty hunters all looking to bring in Jonathon for differing reasons, Jack has a hard road ahead of him and that's before he discovers Jonathon's phobias about planes.
In terms of cinema, I remember the 80's for one main genre the buddy movie; the genre continues today but that is my overriding memory of the films I saw during this time and since then from the period. Hardly a dynamic hotbed or imagination and innovation, the genre did throw up many films that are quite enjoyable if you meet them on their own terms and it did occasionally produce some that are very enjoyable and still stand up years later for a combination of reasons, Midnight Run is one of these and, for my money is a great street smart comedy. Of course it is still a genre film but the plot is well written combining a reasonably engaging story with a fun series of set pieces. While it is not laugh our loud funny apart from maybe once or twice what it does manage is to have a comic tone to it and a great sense of fun and energy throughout. It is hard to describe but it is one of those films that just feels comfortable and fun to watch.
A major part of this is the fantastic playing of the actors the cast and their chemistry go a long way to making this a better film that it may have been in other, less able, hands. De Niro plays his well-practiced tough guy but allows himself to be the butt of humour if not out and out jokes. What he (and the writers) did very well was to keep the audience on his side even though he was basically transporting Jonathon to his death! He comes off as a likable guy and De Niro takes what many other actors have made into a clichéd part and really made it his own. His easy chemistry with Grodin also helps a lot and the two really so work together thanks to a good comic performance from him. Of course in a more serious film, Jonathon as he was would be very unrealistic but Grodin's delivery suits the material and tone of the film perfectly. The support cast are all given minor roles to share out and they all contribute in their own little way. Kotto gives plenty of laughs with a minor character. Ashton has less time and a less likable character but still does OK; Farina could not look more 'mob' if he tried; Pantoliano swears a lot and is amusing while minor roles for the like of Walters and Hall add to the cast in cameos. While the film has a deep cast, it really belongs to De Niro and Grodin, both of whom really deliver and have an easy chemistry between them befitting the genre.
If I had a complaint it would be the sheer volume of swear words in the film; the first time I saw it was on ITV (that most notorious of editors they cut whole scenes out of Die Hard due to swearing!) and it was cut to shreds with plenty of badly dubbed lines and scenes just removed due to language. Personally I'm not overly bothered by it but it is such a fun film that it seems a shame to make it unsuitable for children by such liberal use of the F word (one or two can be forgiven but every other word pretty much makes it unsuitable), but I suppose it is all part of the tough but fun tone of the film and I enjoy it regardless.
Overall this is not one of the greatest films ever nor one of De Niro's best but it is a very, very good genre film and, in my mind, stands out from many other buddy-style movies that have been made in the crime/thriller sort of mould. The plot mixes a good story with many fun set pieces and keeps a solidly enjoyable pace all the way through while a roundly strong cast all make better use of the script than lesser actors could have done. A very enjoyable genre film and one that I will keep coming back to due to its reliable mix of pace, energy, fun and excitement.
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