Midnight Run (1988)

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Released 8-Aug-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 121:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Martin Brest

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Robert De Niro
Charles Grodin
Yaphet Kotto
John Ashton
Dennis Farina
Joe Pantoliano
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $39.95 Music Danny Elfman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    While an office job may not be the most exciting profession one can imagine, the stresses of being a bounty hunter would fast-track most people to an early grave. You are dealing with the scum of society, and like those blind, nightmare creatures living on the ocean floor, career criminals dwell in the darkness for so long that their morals atrophy from neglect. These people would kill you before surrendering themselves. The bounty hunter must stay one step ahead...or wind up dead. Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) works in that rough trade, doing on contract what he once did on salary as a cop. Dodging bullets and haggling with crooked money-men, he now exists purely for those elusive big dollars, and perhaps the misguided belief that he can still make a difference. His luck changes when a dream job comes his way: $100,000 to deliver ace embezzler Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin) to court. Jack figures that the job is easy, a "midnight run" in bounty hunter parlance. With the Mafia, FBI, and a rival man-hunter also chasing Mardukas, poor Jack figured wrong.

    It's plain to see why Midnight Run was a success. De Niro is excellent as Walsh, the man Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle may have become if his brain hadn't been stir-fried in Vietnam. The familiar supporting cast, which includes Dennis Farina, Yaphet Koto, John Ashton, and Joe (The Matrix) Pantoliano, all appear to anticipate the audience's enjoyment of the odd-ball story line. Beverly Hills Cop director Martin Brest also knows what pleases the mainstream palette. He prepares this particular banquet like a master chef.

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Transfer Quality


    On DVD, Midnight Run looks like it has just stepped out of the shower. Framed at 1.78:1, the non-anamorphic image is immaculate for a movie over 10 years old.

    Even after zooming the letterboxed picture to fill my 16:9 TV screen, the level of sharpness and detail was pleasing from start to finish. Glasses and plates on restaurant tables were perfectly discernible, as were background elements in the airport and Arizona desert. Shadow detail was a tad chalky in darker scenes, but that appears to be a fault with the source print
rather than the transfer, which couldn't have been any brighter.

   The colours are piercing. In fact, I dropped the colour level a few increments to compensate for the saturation of this transfer, however, as strong as the colours were, colour bleed was not a problem.

   Film grain, compression artefacts, and marks on the print were no hassle, either. Years of seeing alignment circles, scratches, hair, and god knows what else on film prints has made their absence on DVDs such as this one distracting in itself, but that is by no means a complaint. Actually, the only gripe one could make about this otherwise superlative effort from Universal is the lack of 16x9 enhancement.

    The mildy disruptive layer change at 55:47 comes right after an exchange between the two bondsmen, which then cuts to another scene. While the narrative remains intact, it makes you think the dialogue was truncated because the layer change occurs a millisecond after Joe Pantoliano's last word. The DVD authors were obviously aiming for the scene transition.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Without the benefit of sonic plastic surgery, the two-channel Dolby surround mix can't help but sound dated.

    Dialogue was distinct at all times, although it distorted whenever characters engaged in nose-to-nose screaming matches, and synchronization was precise.

    Danny Elfman's honky tonk score injects the film with the intended planes, trains, and automobile groove. Turned up to the appropriate volume, the guitar riffing, harmonica melodies, and punchy, subwoofer-assisted bass kicks all work marvellously to emphasize the tomfoolery unfolding before us.

    The surround component of the soundtrack was passive to the point of being literally inaudible. This is another stereo mix, with the rear speakers doing the bare minimum to create a limited sound field. Directional effects were limited to the front soundstage, but reflected the on-screen action adequately.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    There are no extras present. The menu colouring is oversaturated.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD is identical to the region 1 DVD, apart from the additional languages and subtitles.


    Midnight Run holds up well for a decade-old movie. Robert De Niro looks more comfortable here than he did in Analyse This, which was more of a comedy trying to be dramatic. The equally far-fetched Midnight Run works well as drama that also has genuine touches of comedy.

    Although bereft of extras, this DVD release only stops short of being definitive due to its non-anamorphic treatment. The same could be said about the the audio, which is antiquated compared to today's 5.1 channel mixes. Then again, it faithfully reproduces the original sound experience.

There is an Official Distributor Comment available for this review.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Wednesday, August 09, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV-7000 (European model), using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

Other Reviews
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Web Wombat - James A
DVD Net - Paul D (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)

Comments (Add)
Newer version available in R1 - capone (they're some fine antibiotics you got there..)
R1 version is anamorphic 16x9 enhanced (and sensational) -