Here we have a fine example of a great movie that's slowly dying. One can find it, but they really have to dig - at least up here in the Great White North, where of course, we must dig through snow. Anyway, one can only rent it here from Apple TV or the Cineplex Store, and it really, truly deserves much more exposure than that. I think the idea is something that, while simple, isn't really something that has been repeated. I could be wrong, but as far as what I've seen goes, this feels like a breath of fresh air.
A bounty hunter by the name of Jack Walsh (Robert De Nero) is hired by bail bondsman Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano) to bring in a $450,000 bail-jumping accountant named Jonathan Mardukas, aka "The Duke" (Charles Grodin). The Duke's crime was to embezzle $15 million from Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina), a powerful Chicago mob boss. As a result, The Duke ran from LA and his bail. Walsh takes the job, demanding $100,000 for his return. When Walsh finally finds him, he ends up with more than the trouble seems to be worth, as The Duke happens to be a real talker and nit-picker. Although the character is pretty irritating, it all works when that personality clashes with De Nero's tough guy personality. Some of their exchanges are actually pretty hilarious.
In the meantime, more people are chasing down The Duke for different reasons. FBI Agent Alonzo Mosely (Yaphet Kotto) wants to bring Mardukas in to testify against Serrano. But an angry Serrano also sends his goons Tony and Joey (Richard Foronjy and Robert Miranda, respectively) to intercept Mardukas for reasons perhaps a touch more lethal. Let's not forget Walsh's bounty-hunting rival, Marvin (John Ashton) who's a bit desperate for a bounty himself. To make matters even more difficult for Walsh's mission, Mardukas seems to have a panic-inducing fear of flying, so a lot of the return journey is on-foot or other various forms of transportation that don't "go down".
This is a cross-country chase movie, jam-packed with a great cast. Some of the delivery these guys have is comedic gold. I particularly enjoyed De Nero responding to Grodin a lot of the time, and the entire side of the mob. Farina, in a way, is the cherry that really tops this sundae. He was making me laugh almost every time he was on-screen, and his two bumbling henchmen weren't far behind. It was further interesting to actually see Yaphet Kotto in a role that wasn't horror. Despite his filmography being fairly extensive, I know him best from 'Alien' and 'Freddy's Dead'. I didn't feel like he really stood out here, but he did manage to have a moment or two that caught my funny-bone, even if it wasn't intentional.
It had been a while since I'd seen this, but I think I had more fun this time around than my first viewing several years ago. If you can find it, I highly recommend checking it out if you've never seen it. It's well-worth the rental cost, and it's easily one of the best examples of a mob comedy (mobedy?) I can think of. I may have a few nit-picks if I dig dep enough (like Grodin annoying me sometimes), but the truth of the matter is I had a lot of fun with this; certainly enough fun that it overshadowed any complaints I might have had - which I'd honestly have to look for. This one is hereby bookmarked as something I'll definitely be watching a few times over.
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