Mid­night Run

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - SEVEN DAYS -

Sun­day, 11pm, ITV4

Younger film­go­ers are used to Robert De Niro mug­ging for the cam­eras in the likes of An­a­lyse This and Meet The Fock­ers. For those of us who grew up watch­ing De Niro’s bril­liant per­for­mances in the likes of The God­fa­ther: Part II, Taxi Driver and Rag­ing Bull, the New Yorker’s choice of bog stan­dard com­edy roles has been de­press­ing. But lest we for­get, De Niro has a real tal­ent for com­edy, which he first demon­strated in Martin Scors­ese’s un­der­rated The King Of Com­edy and this buddy road movie from the 1980s.

De Niro is Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter charged with bring­ing in Jonathan Mar­dukas (Charles Grodin), an ac­coun­tant who’s em­bez­zled mil­lions of dol­lars from his boss. The trou­ble is Jonathan’s boss is a no­to­ri­ous mob­ster who un­sur­pris­ingly wants him dead. To make mat­ters more com­pli­cated, Jack’s em­ployer, bail bonds­man Eddie, has hired an­other bounty hunter, Marvin (John Ash­ton), just in case he screws up on the job. Thus the scene is set, as the chain-smok­ing, eth­i­cally-chal­lenged Jack at­tempts to bring in his fas­tid­i­ous, health-con­scious and ide­al­is­tic charge, while stay­ing one step ahead of trou­ble.

The chem­istry be­tween De Niro and Grodin and some nice comic turns from the likes of Yaphet Kotto, as a put-upon FBI agent, keep this low-key com­edy tick­ing along nicely, and showed that De Niro could play for laughs long be­fore he re­sorted to satiris­ing some of the bet­ter roles that first made him fa­mous.

The story be­hind the film

De Niro (be­low) wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent, hav­ing just com­pleted The Un­touch­ables for Brian De Palma, in which he played Al Capone, and was keen to have a go at a com­edy. Mid­night Run re­ceived mixed re­views at the time – many crit­ics felt that the buddy genre had been done to death, with the likes of 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon al­ready ap­pear­ing in the years pre­vi­ous to its re­lease.

Nev­er­the­less, the film is now re­garded as a mi­nor com­edy clas­sic and there are plans in the pipe­line for a se­quel, which could see De Niro and Grodin repris­ing their orig­i­nal roles. Tim Fan­ning

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