Sunday, June 01, 2014

“I'll file a report tomorrow.”

The archetype of the buddy cop action flick and Eddie Murphy's big screen debut and from the director of The Warriors. Yeah, sure, I'll watch 1982's 48 Hrs.

San Francisco Detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) is having a bad day. Violent criminal Albert Ganz (James Remar, Ajax from The Warriors) escapes from a chain gang with the help of Billy Bear (Sonny Landham, Billy from Predator) and the two go on a crime spree, killing a few cops with Cates' own gun, oh, and he had an argument with his girlfriend Elaine (Anette O'Toole). More than just being two crooks on a tear, Ganz and Bear are finding their old gang members, and killing them, except Luther (David Patrick Kelly, a different Luther from The Warriors), whom they bully into helping them look for something. Cates wants to get revenge for the dead cops and one of Ganz' former buddies, Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), is the only real lead he has left. Problem is, Hammond's in jail. So Cates secures a temporary parole for Hammond, leaving the two with only 48 Hours (DUN DUN DUN!) to stop Ganz.

Directed by Walter Hill, a man who is no stranger to action movies. He made The Warriors, and the Warriors is fantastic. He even reused several actors from The Warriors (Remar, Landham and Kelly). Anyway, this is a well constructed action movie. Grittier than I expected, regarding the tone. The gritty streets of San Francisco and the early 80s neon nights is a part of that, but the action goes for a more brutal realism (not Verhoeven-level squibs) and the two main characters (Cates in particular) get beaten up quite a lot and get outwitted at numerous points. Lots of great physical effects, lots of fisticuffs, and not a whole lot of humor. 

Considering this was Eddie Murphy's breakout movie, I expected more yuks. Most of the comic relief comes from Murphy himself, and he does a fine job because he's not just a comic relief character. As a screen debut, its quite good because it shows the ability to do the comedy he's well known for while also reaching into more serious territory.

It does have an angry police captain though, so there's some comedy there too.

Written by Roger Spottiswoode and Walter Hill & Larry Gross and Steven E. de Souza. While the movie goes for a gritty tone for the setting and events, the villains end up being...cartoonish. Ganz is a psycopath who would rather watch cartoons than bang a hooker. Billy Bear is little more than a henchman who happens to be Native American. The real character work comes with the interactions between Cates and Hammond. The two can't be more different. Cates is a grizzled, gruff, trainwreck of a human being who is still an honest cop. Hammond is a slick, fast-talking, stylish conman who's always trying to keep secrets and play an angle. Naturally the two hate each other, but learn to grudgingly respect each other. Considering the year (1982), its amazing how fertile the Buddy-Cop movie becomes down the road (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard with a Vengeance, most things Shane Black is involved in), but it kind of originated here.

Music by James Horner. Steel drums, just like in Commando! Okay, not to the same extent as Commando, but they do show up. The James Horner score is quite good, but doesn't quite reach iconic status.


48 Hrs. is good. The action scenes are well done, the pace moves brusquely, and the solid character work between Nolte and Murphy really invests you in what's going on. I now understand the reason why its the archetype of buddy cop movies. Recommended.

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