Here is a road movie that transcends the genre with its offbeat humor and rounded characters. Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin) is a mild-mannered Mafia accountant who ripped off $15 million from a Chicago kingpin. While under arrest for embezzlement, he jumps bail. Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) is an ex-cop who left the force when he refused to join his comrades in criminal activities. Now he’s a bounty hunter who will receive $100,000 when he returns Mardukas to Los Angeles for trial.
Walsh captures his man in New York and starts a cross-country trek. Everything is working against him: the FBI is on their trail, Mafia killers are after them, and the bail bondsman has sent another bounty hunter to make sure Mardukas shows up on the assigned date. Along the way, the white-collar criminal, who gave most of the Mafia’s money away to charity, befriends the embittered ex-cop whose conscience got him canned.
The acting by Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin is top-drawer. These two characters are worth caring about. Surrounded on all side by ethical infants, they at least know the difference between virtue and vice. Midnight Run, directed by Martin Brest, is entertaining and engaging a total winner.