Midnight Run

Year 1988

Robert De Niro   as  Jack Walsh
Charles Grodin as   Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas  
Yaphet Kotto as  Alonzo Mosely
John Ashton as   Marvin Dorfler
Dennis Farina as   Jimmy Serrano
Joe Pantoliano as   Eddie Moscone
Director - Martin Brest  
Screenwriter - George Gallo

Midnight Run, the story of a bounty hunter brining back his charge to collect the bond reward, is a big mix of a movie. It's part road-trip, part police chase, and part buddy flick. It also may have the greatest percentage use of the "F" word in a movie ever. At least ten percent of the words uttered in the movie is the grand-daddy of all curse words. It's used so often, by so many characters, for so many things, that it transcends mere profanity and almost seems ethereal or supernaturally commanded to be used.

This is symtomatic of the things that are right with this movie. Many ideas are used over and over in different and intriguing ways. For example, how many ways can Jimmy Serrano (Farina) threaten someone? Off the top of my head, at least a dozen. Among my favorites, is the threat of a pencil to the heart, burying a telephone in someone's head, and using a blowtorch to reward a failure. Of course it's an effing pencil, telephone, etc.

Then there's the fact that Jack Walsh (De Niro) is impersonating Alonzo Mosely (Kotto) by dint of the fact that he stole his FBI badge. In the eyes of many of the people in the movie, Walsh is the real Mosely and Mosely is a copycat. For example, when Mosely asks a train porter the whereabouts of Walsh, the porter confides that Walsh's real name is Mosely. The identity theft is played again and again, but never the same way twice.

The events in the movie are as over-the-top as the dialog. Walsh must take The Duke (Grodin) from New York to Los Angeles in five days in order to collect his commission. It starts off as a "midnight run" or a quick, easy piece of work. A plane flight from New York to L.A. and it's over. But The Duke won't fly and so they travel by train, then by bus, then by stolen car, then by freight train... Walsh gets more irritable and The Duke becomes more insufferable. The Duke's a nagger. "Why do you eat that?" he asks while Jack is dining on fried chicken. "Smoking is bad for you," is another. So is his unasked for accounting advice.

Jack says, "I've got two words for you." And those two words are STFU.

Even the goons get good lines. One of them is wearing a cowboy hat in one say and says, that he's Hopalong Che-si-dice (pronounced kay-sid-each). Although it sounds a bit like Cassidy, che si dice is Italian for, "What's up?".

There are a couple of sub-plots that elevate this movie from the run-of-the-mill to the just-fresh-enough category. There's also a kitchen sink of shoot-outs and car chases, there's even a helicopter chase, to make sure that nothing ever stops moving. Top all that off with great acting all the way around.

And let's not forget the music. Listening to the mood setting score, I was reminded of Oingo Boingo's ditty "Not My Slave". After checking the credits, sure enough Danny Elfman wrote the score. There's a strong Ry Cooder influence incorporated by Elfman which complements the film.

It's not a great movie. There are some pretty big plot holes and continuity issues throughout, but they don't detract from the fun of the movie.

Profanity elevated to an art form and blasphemy. No nudity. Because it's a comedy, there's some chick flick potential here. It's funny enough to make multiple viewings about every six months or so an entertaining experience.

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