Midnight Run begins with Jack Walsh – aka Alonzo Mosely – as a disgraced ex-cop/bounty hunter with a heart of gold, barely scratching by to make a buck, dodging bullets, chasing crooks down in alleys, and screaming at shady bail bondsmen. When he isn’t pistol-whipping rival bounty hunters or stealing their cars and identities in the process, he has a heart of gold, so his criminal activity is allowed.
Jack’s latest felon retrieval is an easy one; a “midnight run” that will earn him a $100,000 payday from bondsman Eddie Moscone. That will allow Jack to make a risky investment buying a diner, and retire, but he must return John “The Duke” Mardukas to Los Angeles, California within 5 days to get the money.
Mardukas – aka Alonzo Mosely – is a mild-mannered accountant who embezzled $15 million from mob boss Jimmy Serrano, and gave it to charity because he’s just that generous. He then planned to put all the mob boss’ criminal activity on computer floppy disks, and then disappear into thin air, but was arrested first.
Jack flies from Los Angeles to New York, but before Ol’ Blue Eyes can sing “New Yawk, New Yawk”, the mob’s hitmen AND the FBI, led by the real Special Agent Alonzo Mosely, accosts Jack. They all want Mardukas before he has a chance to give the mob’s incriminating computer disks to the world (little do they all know, those disks do not exist).
Jack palms the badge of the no-nonsense FBI agent, Alonzo Mosley, and falsifies the picture on it for himself to become…Alonzo Mosely. Jack tracks Mardukas down and slaps the cuffs on him faster than you can say “Cujo the killer watchdog”. He then drags the very plane-wary Duke onto an airplane from New York back to Los Angeles. However, Mardukas has a panic attack while on the plane, and he gets them thrown off it onto their keesters.
Meanwhile, Eddie’s getting nervous that Jack didn’t bring Mardukas in on that plane, so he hires Marvin Dorfler, a competing bounty hunter, to track him and Jack down. Marvin makes a quick call to Jack’s credit card company to find the last place he used it, and then cancels that card because this is 1988, and you can do that over the phone without any security questions, passwords, or other identification.
So, with no money, the mob hot on their tail, and the real Alonzo Mosely and his FBI team close behind, a desperate Jack drags Mardukas onto a train, and outwits them all…for now.
This easy midnight run then spirals out of control into a hilarious series of events starting with a crazy bus ride to a station wagon Jack borrows from his estranged wife of nine years to a raging river scene to the back of an old pickup truck on an Indian reservation.
The aerophobic Duke tries to steal an abandoned biplane before Jack tosses him back into the old pickup truck that they borrow until Mardukas impersonates Alonzo Mosely so he and Jack can steal money for chorizo and eggs, and then hightail it out of Dodge on a slow-moving west-bound cargo train.
Eventually, they jump off said train, and steal another off-road 4×4 in Flagstaff, Arizona, before an off-road police chase through Sedona; involving dozens of non-off-road police cruisers that sadly don’t have off-road insurance.
Unfortunately for Jack, Marvin is still in pursuit, and he shows up, and steals Mardukas out of Jack’s clutches. The FBI catches up to Jack at a Sedona diner, and arrests him, but Jack has a heart of gold so that’s gotta be worth something, amirite?
He negotiates a deal with federal law enforcement where he will claim to have Mardukas’s incriminating computer disks, and exchange them for Mardukas with Jimmy Serrano who by this time has taken Mardukas from an inept Marvin..
The real Alonzo Mosely agrees to the plan, and Jack makes a deal to meet Jimmy in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jack meets Serrano at the airport while wearing a wire for the FBI as Serrano’s thugs and the rest of the FBI watch the deal go down. Marvin is there too to head home defeated, but spots Serrano’s men bring Mardukas into the airport.
He interrupts Jack and Serrano, and a minor scuffle ensues; disabling Jack’s wire. In the confusion, Serrano takes the disks, and Jack alerts the FBI to that fact. They nab Serrano and all his men.
As part of their agreement, Mosely hands Mardukas over to Jack, and they head back to Los Angeles before his deadline expires. However, Jack knows that Eddie double-crossed him with Marvin, and also that he can’t in good conscience send Mardukas to prison. Jack let’s Mardukas go for real.
As the two go their separate ways, Jack gives Mardukas a watch that his wife gave him before their marriage in a symbolic act that he’s finally let her memory go. Mardukas returns the favor and gives Walsh $300,000 in a money belt he’s been hiding for the entire desperate trip.
Mardukas disappears into the Los Angeles airport as Jack flags down a taxi, and asks the driver if he has change for a $1,000 bill. It looks like Jack’s going to be walking home…