Sunday, February 8, 2015

#1,637. 48 Hrs. (1982)

Directed By: Walter Hill

Starring: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O'Toole

Tag line: "The boys are back in town. Nick Nolte is a cop. Eddie Murphy is a convict. They couldn't have liked each other less. They couldn't have needed each other more"

Trivia: Gregory Hines was the first choice to play Reggie Hammond but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with The Cotton Club

An action / comedy directed by Walter Hill, 48 Hrs, marked the big-screen debut of actor Eddie Murphy. Now, that may not seem like much of a selling point nowadays, but as anyone who was around in 1982 can tell you, this was a big deal. After making people laugh for years on TV’s Saturday Night Live, most knew it was only a matter of time before Murphy would make the transition to film, and based on what he showed us in 48 Hrs, he was destined to become one hell of a movie star!

Jack Cates (Nick Nolte), a hard-nosed detective with the San Francisco police force, is hunting a pair of ruthless cop killers: Albert Ganz (James Remar), who recently escaped from prison; and a Native American who goes by the name Billy Bear (Sonny Landham). 

Looking to get the upper hand on the two criminals, Cates enlists the help of Reggie Hammond (Murphy), a former member of Ganz’s gang who is currently serving 3 years for armed robbery. After pulling a few strings, Cates gets Hammond a temporary release from prison, which will expire in exactly 48 hours. With no time to lose, the two get down to business, and during the investigation Cates discovers that Hammond has his own reasons for wanting to see Ganz behind bars again. In fact, he has half a million of them!

Despite what the opening paragraph of this review may have led you to believe, 48 Hrs is far from a one-man show. Nick Nolte is excellent as the gruff Cates, a no-nonsense detective following up on every possible lead while, at the same time, spouting off a series of insults (not to mention a few racial slurs) aimed at his new “partner” (to say Cates and Reggie don’t get along would be an understatement). Also strong is James Remar as the cold-blooded killer, Albert Ganz; and director Walter Hill shines as well, staging a number of fine action sequences, the best of which features a high-speed pursuit down a busy city street, with Cates and Hammond giving chase to a bus that Ganz and Billy Bear have stolen. 

That said, 48 Hrs belongs to Eddie Murphy, who, despite having never appeared in a film before, displays all the confidence of a seasoned Hollywood pro. From the moment we first meet Reggie Hammond, belting out the lyrics of The Police’s "Roxanne" while sitting in his prison cell, he is the most interesting character in the film. His tempestuous give-and-take with Cates set the standard for the “Buddy Cop” sub-genre (influencing everything from Lethal Weapon to Hot Fuzz), and the scene where, posing as a policeman, Reggie subdues an entire redneck bar is the highlight of the movie.

More than a great action/comedy, 48 Hrs trumpeted the arrival of a new star, one who would set the box office ablaze through much of the ‘80s with films like Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop (and its sequel), and Coming to America. In 48 Hrs, you see the spark that ignited that flame, and this alone makes it a movie you won’t want to miss.

1 comment:

Peter Nielsen said...

Hey, Dave

I friggin' love this movie! And in case people weren't tempted enough to watch it, by YOUR review... here are my thoughts on the same movie (if you don't mind):