Another Midnight Run (1994)

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Pointless sequels litter the average multiplex like ground up popcorn underneath seats (and are about as edifying). But “Another Midnight Run”, the first of three made-for-TV sequels to the 1986 classic, is something a bit different, and that’s why I’d like to take your time banging on about an almost completely forgotten, virtually impossible to get hold of movie (I didn’t even know it existed until fellow ISCFC reviewer Kilran suggested we watch it).

If you’ve seen “Midnight Run”, you’ll recognise the characters, if not the faces playing them, although they’re all solid hands. Stepping in to Robert DeNiro’s shoes is character actor Christopher McDonald; bail bondsman Eddie Moscone, formerly Joe Pantoliano, is now Dan Hedaya; and other bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler is now Ed O’Ross, aka the guy who plays Russians so often it’s genuinely surprising to hear him do an American accent. Downgrades in all cases, for sure, but not too bad.

As you’re really only going to watch this movie if you’ve seen that first one – a classic, although one which on rewatch could stand to trim a subplot or two – you’ll have a couple of fairly important questions quite early on, questions which the movie never answers. First up is, er, how are these people still working together? Jack Walsh let “The Duke” go at the end of “Midnight Run”, costing Moscone Bail Bonds $450,000 and almost certainly driving it out of business. Marvin was arrested at the airport along with the Mafia guys. The assistant at the bail bonds place was arrested due to working for the Mafia. And Jack Walsh left the business to set up a coffee shop. There’s no way! You might think “this is probably a prequel, right?” and circumstantial evidence would back you up – McDonald is certainly younger than DeNiro, and Ed O’Ross has a full head of hair in the way that the former Marvin Dorfler didn’t. But…

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Like I said, the movie never answers this question, so if you assume it’s a prequel (and there’s at least as much evidence to say it isn’t than it is, the title for one) you’re just trying to make the movie make sense, like fan-fiction. Actually, fan-fiction is a perfect way to describe much of this movie, as if the reason we liked the first movie was the characters and not the fantastic central relationship between DeNiro and Charles Grodin; and the script which expertly dovetails the strands of plot in a funny and clever ending.

This alternate universe Moscone Bail Bonds pays the bail for a couple of con artists, Bernie Abbot (Jeffrey Tambor) and Helen Bishop (Cathy Moriarty), who of course abscond. Jack is given the contract for Bernie, with Marvin getting it for Helen; but Jack captures them both, and there’s a whole thing where he tries to get them back to LA from San Fransisco, one form of transport fails, etc. etc. Here’s the second time you people who had the temerity to watch “Midnight Run” will be scratching your heads – Jack, a former cop in Chicago, is both remarkably taciturn and pretty smart. It takes a lot of work from The Duke before Jack opens up, and an amazing performance is required to fool him, the only few times it happens. The Jack of “Another Midnight Run” is both talkative and so mind-buggeringly stupid that you’re surprised he’s able to dress himself every morning – Bernie and Helen trick him constantly, escape from him on multiple occasions, get him arrested, and so on. Perhaps the worst example is when they complain of a noise from the boot, get him to stop the car, open it, hand them something heavy, then lean into the boot so he can be bashed over the head and trapped in there! I know children who wouldn’t fall for that! When you discover that he could have escaped from the boot instantly by kicking the back seats forward (which the movie doesn’t actually tell us deliberately), it’s merely the rotten icing on the cake of dumbassery.

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Even if this was a couple of episodes of a proposed TV series hurriedly edited into movie form when someone decided not to go ahead with it, it’s still rotten. I’d take two episodes of…pretty much anything, over this. Let’s compare this to a similarly light, basic cable procedural show like “Leverage”. You know how every episode’s going to end up, pretty much, you know no-one serious is going to die, but there’ll be twists and turns and cons and thefts and a variety of crime-based fun. The script for “Another Midnight Run” would have been rejected for that show for being too stupid, and this is something that’s being sold to us as a movie.

There are two more movies to go, and I’ll probably end up watching them out of some morbid curiosity, but I’m just so disappointed. Not a single bit of effort was made to make this movie enjoyable – it’s a moron being constantly outwitted by a couple of unlikeable assholes for 90 minutes.

Rating: whatever below thumbs down is

PS – don’t believe me? Think I’m just trying to have a laugh? Look at the poster at the top of the screen. See that awful photoshopping? They couldn’t even be bothered to have McDonald take a photo in his own character’s outfit to provide a cover. Screw this movie.

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