ALTERNATIVE MUSINGS – Is Midnight Run Sequel A Good Idea?

By Marty Mulrooney

MidnightRun(199

It was recently announced that the 1988 classic movie Midnight Run could be receiving a sequel, over twenty years later. Now call me pessimistic, but I am not sure that this is a good idea at all.

Why? Numerous reasons… but I want to remain balanced when writing this article if I can. So now, at midnight no less, I present both sides of the argument as I see it for/against a sequel being made to one of my favourite films of all time.

For

  • A sequel would hopefully raise awareness of the original film, which in my eyes is an absolute classic. Although it has gained a cult following over the years, any further exposure would be more than welcomed, as there are still many people who haven’t heard of it at all, which is a crying shame. If you haven’t seen it, go buy it on DVD now! It’s brilliant, trust me.
  • De Niro is producing the sequel, which would hopefully mean that if he gives a damn at all about the original, he won’t purposely sully its name with a tripe follow-up. However, Righteous Kill pissed all over the classic memories of Heat without De Niro OR Pacino breaking a sweat, so this doesn’t fill me with much confidence. Damn, this is still the ‘for’ section, right?!
  • Depending on how it is handled, De Niro’s character Jack Walsh could be pretty cool to catch up with after twenty years. Did he finally open his restaurant? Did he manage to reconnect with his daughter as she grew up? Actually, you know what… damn. I know this is the ‘for’ section, but I’m really stretching myself here. Are these questions really burning enough to justify a sequel? I’m not sure…

Against

  • Charles Grodin’s character ‘The Duke’ will not be returning. As the original’s appeal was basically structured totally around the chemistry between De Niro and Grodin, this immediately makes a sequel without him worrying to say the least. In many ways, the sequel could become any film now, with the only link being Jack Walsh’s character. If this is the case, then why bother? The best scenes all featured Grodin, especially the subtle ones. The scene in the diner with the chorizo and eggs, the famous ‘Litmus Configuration’, the chat about f*cking chickens… with him a sequel might have been worthwhile. Without him? I just don’t see it.
  • Which brings us to the next worrying revelation, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter: “Timothy Dowling, the writer behind Universal’s comedy “Role Models,” is being brought on board to pen the script that would bring back De Niro’s character, Jack Walsh, and pair him with a younger comedic foil.” A younger comedic foil? If it turns out to be Seaan William Scott, I will actually kill myself and burn all of my Robert De Niro DVDs (perhaps not in that order!) I liked Role Models, but what does it have in common with Midnight Run dramatically or comedically? Sweet f*ck all.
  • Midnight Run’s final scenes were powerful and memorable. Yes, perhaps I am overly emotional when it comes to cinema, but I found the original’s ending to be perfect. It really tugged at my heartstrings… it still does. The fact that these two guys who hated each other grew to become friends, with Jack eventually choosing that friendship over monetary gain… it was just a really great ending. The Duke disappears in the blink of an eye, and Jack walks off into the night a richer man in more ways than one. Would they ever see each other again? Who knows? As they said to each other at the time: “See you in the next life”. If a sequel screws up the greatest bromance of all time just to make a quick buck, it will be doing the original a huge disservice that it just doesn’t deserve.
  • In fact, wasn’t the ending pretty clear about Jack getting his restaurant with the $300,000 ‘The Duke’ gave him as a parting gift, therefore leaving the bounty hunting gig for good? So why do I get the impression that De Niro will still be a bounty hunter in the sequel, twenty years later? Again, if this is the case it is going to meddle with an arguably perfect ending, negating the beautiful ambiguity we were left with all those years ago. Is there anything they can do here that won’t hamper the original?

How a sequel to Midnight Run could avoid completely sucking…

  • Somehow get Charles Grodin back (even if it is just a cameo), instead of a ‘younger comedic foil’. However, with Mr Grodin having somewhat left the acting profession, this seems highly unlikely.
  • Get Danny Elfman back on board to compose the soundtrack: Midnight Run’s score was full of drawn-out guitar wails and upbeat brass sections that complemented the onscreen action to perfection. Anyone else just won’t cut it.
  • Get director Martin Brest to direct the sequel. This guy gave us Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run before turkeys like Meet Joe Black and Gigli. I think he deserves a second chance and could do a great follow-up if he put his mind to it.
  • Bring back Joe Pantoliano’s character Eddie Moscone. He was hilarious back then, and he still is now: just look at his recent work in The Sopranos.
  • Bring back John Ashton as Marvin. I don’t think I even need to explain why! It was great to see him on the big screen recently in Gone Baby Gone and I would love to see him again opposite De Niro in the sequel.
  • Bring back Dennis Farina’s mobster character Jimmy Serrano. He was a fantastic antagonist in Midnight Run: the timing of the sequel would make his release from jail a realistic possibility. We could get a really great story if they focused on this aspect: perhaps Jack Walsh has his restaurant burnt down as revenge and then returns to the life he vowed to leave behind? Or maybe he needs to get some more cash together and embarks on one last midnight run? I am not saying these ideas are particularly original, but if they have to make a sequel I would rather it followed on from the original storyline in some way!

Overall, I think this sequel has a lot going against it already. I am rather worried about the whole thing, although I will certainly reserve my final judgment until a trailer is released at least. Who knows, maybe it won’t even happen? But if it does, I hope they treat it with respect and do it right.

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4 Comments

Filed under Alternative Musings, Film

4 responses to “ALTERNATIVE MUSINGS – Is Midnight Run Sequel A Good Idea?

  1. A sequel to Midnight Run? :/

    There must be a reason for creating a sequel beyond just making money from the fact it’s a sequel to a great movie.

    Some movies can indeed work as series – similar to TV series – simply because their premise is unique and fertile. MR’s success was built on subtle character relationships – it’s not something you can just take out and repeat in a sequel. A remake would make much more sense, even if it doesn’t have chance to compare to the original.

    • Marty Mulrooney

      I agree a remake would at least have had a shot, you make an interesting point there Igor. I still think they should leave it alone though! As you said yourself, it is doubtful anything is going to compare to the original.

      To be honest, with Midnight Run the premise was so deceptive. You could be forgiven for thinking it was just going to be a typical action/buddy comedy movie. The fact it turned out to be so much more was one of the true delights of my movie-watching times as a child.

      I remember catching the opening of the film on BBC1 when I should have been asleep (probably a school night). The Universal logo with the opening music had me immediately hooked, and by the end I knew this was a classic film, something really special. I rented a bad copy on VHS from Blockbuster the following weekend. I later bought the DVD and still watch it a few times a year. It hasn’t aged a bit.

      It may be unprofessional, but I will say this: if the sequel tampers with these memories and makes them resonate less for me, I am going to crucify it come review time on AMO! I hope I am proven wrong…

  2. Technically speaking, Midnight Run has already had a few sequels made: a bunch of made-for-TV movies staring Christopher McDonald as Walsh (which hey, is really enough to dismiss them now as proper sequels) all of which were named dubiously:

    Another Midnight Run
    Midnight Runaround & last but not least…
    Midnight Run For Your Life

    They haven’t worried too much with taking one of the most classic films I’ve seen (and one of the best soundtracks/scores I’ve heard) and flogging its cash cow to death. Then again, with those 3 lacklustres, I doubt anyone had noticed before anyway…

    But another, now? Did Indiana Jones 4 teach them nothing?!

    • Marty Mulrooney

      I guess it was easier dealing with those three crap sequels because they didn’t really feel like canon, being made for TV only with a completely new cast. I just act as if they don’t exist. I’ve only seen some of them but they were truely awful… I guess this new sequel can’t be any worse! Another ‘for’ point for the article actually, kinda!

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