Directed by Martin Brest
An accountant is chased by bounty hunters, the FBI, and the Mafia after jumping bail.
I recently conducted an interview with a director named Joseph Greco, who made a film called CANVAS (listen to PODCAST interview), starring Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden. I watched the screener before the interview and was blown away by Pantoliano's performance in the film. Most people remember him from playing heavies in films and in his legendary role in The Sopranos TV show. But this guy has a lot of range. He can actually play the nice guy.
I wanted to watch more of him so I dusted off Midnight Run from my VHS collection to see his performance playing Bail Bondsman Eddie Moscone. What I forget though was how terrific this film is all around and how it's really a true lost classic.
Midnight Run as of this writing was made over 20 years ago and it really stands the test of time. And that's very rare in the action film genre. It's just a nicely written, nicely performed movie that's entertaining all the way through.
Midnight Run is more than an action film. It's actually Robert DeNiro's first comedic performance. His scenes with Charles Grodin are fantastic and are the scenes that are most remembered. There is so much chemistry with these two as they get to know each other in their crazy cross-country road trip from New York to LA.
But there's also a lot of great banter scenes with DeNiro and FBI Agent Alonzo Mosely (Yaphet Kotto) and his nemesis and bondsman rival Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton). DeNiro is just a fantastic performer and Midnight Run is just one of those films that everyone needs to see.
And Pantoliano? Called Joey Pans by his close friends (or interviewers of people who are close to him!). The reason why I watched this film is the master at playing the nice guy/sleezy guy. You can't trust or even want to meet most of the characters he plays, but you enjoy watching him do the things he does.
Martin Brest, the director of Midnight Run, has had an interesting career. He got his big break directing the film Going in Style in 1979 about 3 seniors who decide to rob a bank. Then he didn't do anything for five years until directing Beverly Hills Cop, a gigantic smash hit that brought Eddie Murphy to a whole other level.
A film that Brest said was the "Luckiest film ever made and is a miracle people liked it, much less becoming the hit film of 1984."
Midnight Run in almost every way is a much better film than Beverly Hills Cop. 'Midnight's' scenes are universal, meaning that the emotional angst and comedy happening with the characters can be understood 200 years from now. 'Cop' is a film about Eddie Murphy doing his thing and being a fish out of water character, things we've seen and will see many times over. But Brest will probably be more remembered for 'Cop' than Midnight Run. It's the way it goes.
Then Brest went on to make two other film, Scent of a Woman and Meet Joe Black, before making what is perhaps the biggest bomb of the first decade of the 21st century. 'Gigli', starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, could also be one of the worst films ever made in Hollywood. It's that bad of a film.
I remember sitting in the theater at its premiere and wondering what happened. How could a director like Brest throw this footage together and pretend it's a story for the world to see? Gigli is just one of those terrible films. I guess we all have them in us. But what happens is that those movies stick to the creators and performers for years and you tend to forget what else they did. A bad film is like a virus or a disease that needs to be stopped or else. And Brest hasn't made a film since and the odds are that he probably won't make another one again.
So when popping Midnight Run into my VCR (still have one), I was still reminded of Gigli. But it's a terrific film and he should be proud.