Midnight Run

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This article is about the 1988 film. For the song by Example, see Midnight Run (Example song). For the annual running competition in the Nordic countries, see Midnattsloppet.
Midnight Run
Midnight Run.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Martin Brest
Produced by Martin Brest
Written by George Gallo
Starring Robert De Niro
Charles Grodin
Yaphet Kotto
John Ashton
Dennis Farina
Joe Pantoliano
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Donald E. Thorin
Edited by Chris Lebenzon
Michael Tronick
Billy Weber
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
July 20, 1988
Running time
126 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $81.6 million

Midnight Run is a 1988 American action-comedy film directed by Martin Brest and starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Dennis Farina, Joe Pantoliano and Philip Baker Hall play supporting roles.

The film was followed by three made-for-TV sequels in 1994, which did not feature any of the principal actors, although a few characters are carried over from the first film.


Bounty hunter Jack Walsh (De Niro) is enlisted by bail bondsman Eddie Moscone (Pantoliano) to bring accountant Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Grodin) back to L.A. The accountant had embezzled $15 million from Chicago mob boss Jimmy Serrano (Farina) before skipping the $450,000 bail Moscone has posted for him. Jack must bring Mardukas back within five days, or Eddie defaults. Eddie says the job is easy, a "midnight run", but Jack demands $100,000. Jack is then approached by FBI Agent Alonzo Mosely (Kotto), who wants Mardukas to be a witness against Serrano and orders Jack to keep away from Mardukas, but Jack takes no notice and instead steals Mosely's ID, which he uses to pass himself off as an FBI agent along his journey. At Kennedy airport in New York, Serrano’s henchmen Tony (Foronjy) and Joey (Miranda) offer Jack $1 million to turn Mardukas over to them, but he turns them down.

Jack takes custody of Mardukas in New York and calls Eddie from the airport, not knowing that Eddie's line is tapped by the FBI and Jerry (Kehoe), Eddie's assistant, is secretly tipping Serrano's men off for money. However, Mardukas has a panic attack on the plane, forcing him and Jack to travel via train. When Jack and Mardukas fail to show up, Eddie brings in rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler (Ashton) to find them. Marvin uses Jack's credit card number to find out where they are and then has the card cancelled. Jack is able to get the drop on Marvin and leaves the train, but without funds, he is forced to rely on other means to get across the country, including stealing cars, borrowing his ex-wife’s (Phillips) car in Chicago, and hitchhiking. Meanwhile, the skirmish on the train reaches Mosely's ears and he leads a task force to find Jack and Mardukas.

Mardukas tries to get to know Jack, who eventually reveals that, ten years before, he was an undercover officer in Chicago trying to get close to a drug dealer who had almost the entire force on his payroll. Eventually, just as Walsh was going to make the arrest, the drug dealer had some heroin planted in his house by corrupt cops. In order to avoid prison and working for the dealer, Walsh left Chicago and became a bounty hunter, while his wife divorced him and married the corrupt lieutenant who fired him. Since then, however, Jack has lived with a sense of hope that he will one day be reunited with his ex-wife. Later on, Mardukas learns that the drug dealer was Serrano himself.

In Arizona, Marvin catches up with them and takes Mardukas away from Jack, who is found by Mosely. While arguing with Moscone over the phone, Jack realizes that Marvin intends to turn Mardukas over to Serrano for $2 million, though Marvin is betrayed and knocked out by Serrano's men after accidentally revealing where he was keeping Mardukas. Jack calls Serrano's men and bluffs that he has computer disks created by Mardukas with enough information to put Serrano away, but promises to hand the disks over if Serrano returns Mardukas to him unharmed. At McCarran Airport, Jack meets up with Serrano while wearing a wire and being watched by the FBI. Marvin, at the airport to fly home, spots Mardukas and interrupts the exchange. Marvin pushes Jack and unknowingly disables the wire. At the last minute, Jack yells that Serrano has the disks; the FBI closes in, arresting Serrano and his henchmen. Mosely turns Mardukas over to Jack with enough time to return him to L.A. by the deadline.

In L.A., Jack calls Eddie to tell him that he has Mardukas, but that he is letting him go. Before parting, Mardukas gives Jack $300,000 in a money belt he had been hiding, while Jack gives Mardukas his old watch that his wife gave him before their marriage, symbolizing that he has finally let go of her. Jack flags down a taxi and asks the driver if he has change for a $1,000 bill, but the taxi drives away, so he starts walking home.



After completing The Untouchables, De Niro wanted to try something different and decided on appearing in a comedy.[1] He pursued the lead role in Penny Marshall's film, Big.[1] Marshall was interested but the studio was not and the role went to Tom Hanks. Martin Brest, who directed Beverly Hills Cop, had developed a script with George Gallo that blended elements of comedy and action.[1] Paramount Pictures was originally interested in backing Midnight Run, but they wanted a big name star opposite De Niro in order to improve the film's chances at the box office.[1] Their production executives suggested that the Mardukas character be changed to a woman and wanted Cher for the role in the hope she would provide some "sexual overtones".[1] When Brest rejected the idea, Paramount suggested teaming De Niro up with Robin Williams, who became eager to get the role and offered to audition for Brest.[1] Brest was impressed by Charles Grodin's audition with De Niro. The director felt that there was a real chemistry between the two actors (De Niro and Williams would later star together in Awakenings in 1990). As a result, Paramount backed out and their UIP partner Universal Studios became interested in the project.[1] Paramount president Ned Tanen claimed that the budget became too high and he decided that "it wasn't worth it".[2]

To research for his role, De Niro worked with real-life bounty hunters and police officers.[3] As Jack uncuffs the Duke on the train, the Duke says, "Thanks, 'cause they're starting to cut into my wrists.'" In fact, Grodin has permanent scars resulting from the handcuffs he had to wear for most of the film.[4] The scene where Grodin's character fell off a cliff was shot on location in the Salt River Canyon in White Mountain, Arizona and the conclusion, taking place in rapids, was shot in New Zealand because the water was too cold in Arizona.[5]

Universal invested $15 million in a print and television advertising campaign.[2]


The film's score was composed by Danny Elfman, and the album was released by MCA Records.

  1. Walsh Gets the Duke (1:47)
  2. Main Titles (2:21)
  3. Stairway Chase (:54)
  4. J.W. Gets a Plan (1:41)
  5. Gears Spin I (:54)
  6. Dorfler's Theme (1:24)
  7. F.B.I. (1:16)
  8. Package Deal (1:07)
  9. Mobocopter (2:42)
  10. Freight Train Hop (1:18)
  11. Drive to Red's (1:04)
  12. In the Next Life (1:06)
  13. The River (1:19)
  14. The Wild Ride (1:31)
  15. Amarillo Dawn (:26)
  16. Potato Walk (1:09)
  17. Desert Run (1:09)
  18. Diner Blues (1:19)
  19. Dorfler's Problem (1:01)
  20. Gears Spin II (1:30)
  21. The Confrontation (2:30)
  22. The Longest Walk (1:32)
  23. Walsh Frees the Duke (2:44)
  24. End Credits: "Try to Believe" – Mosley & The B-Men (4:16)

Note: The end credits track as heard in the film is instrumental.


Box office[edit]

Midnight Run was released on July 20, 1988, in 1,158 theaters, grossing USD $5.5 million in its opening weekend. It went on to make $38.4 million in North America and $43.2 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $81.6 million.[6]


Midnight Run has a 95% score at Rotten Tomatoes based on 44 reviews.[7] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and wrote, "What Midnight Run does with these two characters is astonishing, because it's accomplished within the structure of a comic thriller ... It's rare for a thriller to end with a scene of genuinely moving intimacy, but this one does, and it earns it."[8] In his review for The Globe and Mail, Jay Scott praised the performances: "De Niro has the time of his acting life lightening up and sending up all those raging bulls that won him all those Oscars ... Charles Grodin, master of the double-take and maestro of the slow burn, the best light character comic since Jack Benny stopped playing himself".[9] Vincent Canby, in his review for The New York Times, wrote, "Mr. De Niro and Mr. Grodin are lunatic delights, which is somewhat more than can be said for the movie, whose mechanics keep getting in the way of the performances".[10] In his review for The Washington Post, Hal Hinson says of the director that, "carrying the dead weight of George Gallo's script, Brest isn't up to the strenuous task of transforming his uninspired genre material in [sic] something deeper, and so the attempts to mix pathos with comedy strike us merely as wild and disorienting vacillations in tone".[11] David Ansen, in his review for Newsweek, wrote, "The outline of George Gallo's script—odd-couple antagonists become buddies under perilous circumstances—was stale five years ago, and the outcome offers no surprises. Too bad: a lot of good work has been wasted on an unworthy cause".[12]



Proposed second film[edit]

In 2010, it was announced that Universal Pictures had hired Tim Dowling to write a sequel, with Robert De Niro set to reprise his role as Jack Walsh. In addition to starring, the actor was slated to produce the film with Jane Rosenthal. It was said that Charles Grodin may reprise his role and that Martin Brest might return to direct the sequel.[13] However, as of 2014, no further announcements have been made.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Parker, John (1995). "De Niro". Victor Gollancz. 
  2. ^ a b "De Niro is Making the Publicity Rounds". St. Petersburg Times. May 23, 1988. pp. 3D. 
  3. ^ O'Regan, Michael (July 17, 1988). "The Private De Niro". Sunday Mail. 
  4. ^ Grodin, Charles (1989). "It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here". William & Morrow & Company, Inc. 
  5. ^ van Gelder, Laurence (July 21, 1988). "Off a Cliff, Across an Ocean: Splash!". The New York Times. p. 19. 
  6. ^ "Midnight Run". Box Office Mojo (IMDb). Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  7. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/midnight_run/
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 20, 1988). "Midnight Run". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  9. ^ Scott, Jay (July 20, 1988). "Midnight Run". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 20, 1988). "De Niro and Grodin in Cross-Country Chase". The New York Times. Retrieved March 16, 2009. 
  11. ^ Hinson, Hal (July 20, 1988). "Random Bounty". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  12. ^ Ansen, David (July 25, 1988). "Reactivating Action Heroes". Newsweek. 
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (March 5, 2010). "Universal taking another Midnight Run". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-03-08. [dead link]

External links[edit]