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 Bounty hunter Jack Walsh has got a new assignment, one that could set him up for retirement. He's just got to get bail-jumping accountant Jonathan 'The Duke' Mardukas back to L.A. by midnight on Friday. But he's not the only one on his trail. The Duke's just embezzled $15 million from the mob who want him dead, trying to get him first are the FBI who want him to testify, five minutes in his company and Jack just wants him to shut up. It's going to be a long journey from New York to L.A.! With a razor-sharp script and performances to match, Martin Brest's cult road movie sees De Niro give one of his greatest comic performances, equally matched by his co-star Grodin.

Video


At first glance the image doesn’t look half bad, but closer examination reveals a string of deficiencies of the sort that plague many of Universal’s catalogue titles (while this is a Second Sight release, the master comes from Universal). The picture is a little soft and occasionally grubby-looking, while some form of noise reduction looks to have been employed to mask the inadequacies. Unfortunately this just leaves things looking waxy and smeary. The screen captures do exacerbate the issue, but it is still readily apparent when viewed in motion. In spite of the DNR the darker scenes frequently look quite noisy. On the positive side the image is colourful, offering nice bright primaries (see the neon signs of the Vegas casinos) throughout. Skin tones run a little red for my liking though. Contrast is generally stable and the image has reasonable depth, but the odd bit of crush does creep in. There's also an odd artefact in the form of strange bright patches at the extreme edges of the frame. You can just about make it out in the captures below, but it’s even more distracting when viewed live. There are also some auto-clean errors that erase portions of the image, but admittedly these are hard to spot in motion. Thankfully there are no other serious issues, with print damage and debris appearing only infrequently and unobtrusively.

All things told this is a pretty disappointing presentation. Granted it looks better than the DVD release, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. It’s not a total disaster simply by virtue of the enhanced definition and lack of any truly calamitous issues, but the overzealous use of noise reduction has definitely had a detrimental effect on things. You can’t really blame Second Sight though; they can only work with what they have.

Audio


The disc offers a choice between LPCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. I went for the latter for my viewing. There’s not as much to discuss here, as the 5.1 track is solid if uninspiring. To be honest it plays more like a stereo track, with the surround channels employed only to bring some presence to the score (there’s nothing else of note in the rears). There is some stereo panning across the frontal array and a surprising amount of bass reinforcement during some of the action sequences (and more surprisingly, underpinning the music), but the overall impression is still of a fairly limited soundstage. I had no issues with dialogue, which remained intelligible throughout.

Midnight Run sounds respectable enough regardless of which track you choose, but in truth the 5.1 audio sounds like little more than an up-mixed version of the stereo track. The redistribution of the score to the rear channels does add a bit of atmosphere, but it’s nothing that couldn’t be accomplished by running the stereo track through Dolby Pro Logic or DTS-Neo processing.

Extras


Second Sight provides a selection of interviews for this release, with participants that include Charles Grodin, Joe Pantoliano, John Ashton, George Gallo and Yaphet Kotto. The interviews range from anywhere between a little over seven minutes to almost twenty-five minutes in length and generally make for interesting viewing. Also included is a short vintage making of featurette. All told there’s barely an hour and a half’s worth of material here, so while it’s commendable that Second Sight went to the trouble of delivering some new content, said content isn’t tremendously plentiful.

Overall


Having never seen Midnight Run prior to this Blu-ray viewing I can honestly say that this is one time when eighties nostalgia played no part my review. It was interesting to watch De Niro in this early comedic role, as he’s since gone on to star in a number of even broader comedies (with diminishing returns), and his chemistry with Grodin made for an enjoyable on-screen pairing. I can’t say that it’s become an instant favourite, but it’s a solid late-eighties dramatic comedy and certainly something that I’d be happy to watch again.

While better than previous DVD efforts the visual presentation here leaves more than a little to be desired. It’s genuinely disappointing that Universal - a company with such a fantastic library of films – repeatedly shows such contempt for its catalogue titles by relying on sub-par masters. Second Sight can’t really be blamed for using the only licensed materials available to them, but the end result is lamentable all the same. It’s not a total disaster, but there’s significant room for improvement here.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run
 Midnight Run


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