Shout Factory’s Midnight Run: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Deft genre cinema that works as well as a comedy as it does a ticking clock action flick.
Published on August 19, 2016 | Filed under Review
Midnight Run

The “buddy” movie had reached a sort of cultural tipping point in the late 80s, by the time Martin Brest’s Midnight Run was released in 1988. Before Brest’s film would release, cinema would see the likes of 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Running Scared, Stakeout, and City Heat. That’s not even counting the double dose of Schwarzenegger buddy pairings in the very same year as Midnight Run, with Twins and Red Heat both releasing mere months apart. But Midnight Run is no mere imitator or slouch, it’s deft genre cinema that works as well as a comedy as it does a ticking clock action flick with Brest turning in his best work outside of Beverly Hills Cop. It has yet to get the attention it deserves, but hopefully Shout Factory’s great new disc release will change that.

Midnight Run is as much a buddy movie as it is a road movie as well, setting itself – and its characters – up for a cross country trip through various means of transportation. It’s a real shame that John Hughes beat Brest to that Planes, Trains & Automobiles title only one year prior! Like the best road movies, the film is as much about the journey as it is the destination and, like the best buddy movies, its strengths lie in the performances of its two leads – Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. The two bicker and banter with the best of ’em but there’s always a sincerity to the ribbing and each character is not always ahead of the other, but ahead of the viewer as well.

Time has been very kind to Midnight Run. It got a lot of TV play in the 90s (albeit naturally heavily censored) and it has been easy to access on home video for decades now. Yet, it never gets mentioned in the same breathe as titles like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon or even Brest’s Beverly Hills Cop. It is long (126 minutes) and it may lack the aggression of those other titles (the 80s loved aggression) but it’s saved by a smart script from George Gallo and Brest knows how to direct both action and comedy well, which is rare. And then there’s its supporting cast, featuring the likes of Yaphet Kotto, Dennis Farina and Joe Pantoliano, all who deliver performances on par with De Niro and Grodin. This is a total throwback to when major studios welcomed risk and, at least this time, that risk paid off. It’s good enough to make you forget that the last film Martin Brest directed was Gigli.

Midnight Run

Shout Factory have brought Midnight Run to Blu-ray via a 2K scan of its interpositive. I never looked at the Region B release from Second Sight but the reviews were sub-par and from what I can tell, this release from SF rights all of those wrongs. This is leagues beyond the DVD that Universal put out ages ago and everything looks organic and vibrant. It’s not the prettiest film, but the exteriors – especially the daytime desert footage – look beautiful and there’s a nice layer of grain throughout. Audio comes as DTS HD 5.1 and 2.0, with the latter more faithfully representing how the film was originally released. Both sound great, regardless, and your system will get a workout during the more action oriented sequences. Great job on the presentation here.

This is part of Shout Factory’s new Shout Select line and so far, the line is off to a good start. The major extra here is a slew of interviews with cast and crew. We start with 7 minutes from De Niro, which contains a good number of clips to go with the talk, leaving De Niro little actual screen time. The rest of the interviews are more straight forward and include George Gallo, Charles Grodin, Joe Pantoliano, John Ashton and an audio only interview with Yaphet Kotto. They’re all well worth a watch, with Gallo getting the most time (25 minutes) and also being the most informative about the production. Everyone else is pretty casual and anecdotal. Fans should be very pleased. We also get a vintage featurette and trailer, both carried over from Universal’s DVD.

I have been waiting to add a good edition of Midnight Run to my collection for years now and I can safely do that thanks to Shout Factory’s Collector’s Edition. The movie has been unfairly overlooked but it’s time for it to join the 80s buddy/road movie cannon. If you’ve never seen it, this is a great way to start and if you have, you probably already pre-ordered this. Highly Recommended.

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in film preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and film studies from Keene State College. He is the Creative Manager at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you've got 'em.
Justin LaLiberty