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This is the one of the movies that kicked off the buddy cop formula.
Technically, Nick Nolte's the only cop, but other films have tried to
imitate the style by having a tough, cranky, by-the-book cop (Nolte's
character) paired off with a loose, easygoing, unorthodox cop (like Murphy's
character). Some of these "imitators" have failed miserably and even those
that succeeded don't match up to "48 Hours."
I haven't seen the unedited version of this movie in over ten years (it plays on TV like 4 times every month), and even when I did catch it on TV, I caught it in bits and pieces. Now that I've seen it straight-through, in its uncut form, I can regard this as an overlooked classic. Watching Nolte as the gruff, chain-smoking Jack, I thought to myself, "He owns that part." Many actors have tried to take on that same role, but nobody plays it better than Nolte. And the same goes for Eddie Murphy. His talent has been taken for granted over the recent years, since his career has hit a major slump. And rightfully so. He should choose his roles much more wisely. How do you from doing such fun, memorable films as "48 Hours," "Coming to America" and "Trading Places" to doing "Showtime" and "I-Spy." This movie proves that Murphy can go leaps and bounds with his comic talent, if the script is well-written. The scene in the all-white, country-western bar, where Murphy shows off his skills as an interrogator, is a classic.
The film is directed by Walter Hill, who's great at directing action sequences. So the movie packs a punch in both the action and comedy department. Nolte and Murphy's chemistry is priceless, and the banter between them is sharp and hilarious. One of my favorite examples is when Murphy asks Nolte, "Can you tell me a bedtime story?" Nolte responds, "F**k you." "That's my favorite one." Of course, Murphy gets most of the credit for being the comic relief, and he is terrific in one of his best comic performances, but Nolte belts out just as many funny lines as him, though he's the official straight man. He never seems to say anything intentionally funny, but that's what's funny. He says things that are hilarious, but sounds dead serious about them. And of course, it's also hilarious to watch him react furiously to Murphy's taunts.
Those who haven't seen "48 Hours" should really check it out, because it's an action classic! Sure, the "Rush Hour" films are good, but Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan don't have close to the same magic as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy! THIS is how an action/comedy is made!!
My score: 9 (out of 10)
It's the chemistry between Nolte and Murphy that makes this work, plus
the fact that both men really attempt to 'get into the skin' of their
character, something mostly ignored in other examples of this genre.
Director Hill knows he's got a great team in front of the camera, and all
that remains is for him to incorporate some spectacular action sequences
around them. This he does competently. That one-two punch is what gives
the movie its fireworks.
The banter and situations concerning the characters are also gleefully un-PC. It'd be interesting to see what a studio and director would make of the same premise in these 'enlightened' times. Murphy's comic stage persona is less restrained here than it would be in later films, and the results are often shamefully funny.
Don't expect Shakespeare, there's far too much cursing and other unsavoury shenanigans going on for that; do expect a pacy and entertaining early example of the 'buddy thriller'.
It seems that after 48 HRS, buddy cop movies had a simple plot. Catch the bad guys while being as funny and silly as possible. There is alot of bad buddy cop movies, this is one of the best. Considering one is a cop and the other is a convict it shouldn't really be considered a buddy cop movie. I watched this film a couple of days ago because it had been awhile since I watched it a thousand times on cable television as a kid. I was surprised at the amount of racial comments made in this film, I guess as a child I didn't really pay attention to those comments. The movie is still solid, definitely one of Walter Hill's best films. Eddie Murphy is perfecting his onscreen personality in his first film. Beverley Hills Cop wasn't far behind. Nick Nolte feels like a tired detective in this film. Nolte has always seemed like the perfect tired private eye or detective to me. The rough voice, the lined and aged face, he just seems right. The movie is exciting and tight, one of the best action films of the eighties.
Nick Nolte is well-cast as the average tough, somewhat maverick cop who gets
involved in a case involving an escaped convict and his partner and their
psychopathic rampage through San Francisco. He's forced to enlist the help
of fast-talking incarcerated con man Eddie Murphy, who has dealt with one of
the killers in past. Murphy insists he be let out for 48 hours in order to
secure a stash of money he has that the killer wants. Nolte and Murphy are a
mismatched pair, Murphy being the sly young criminal, Nolte being a tough,
somewhat ignorant cop who tires easily of his partner's fast mouth and
wayward way of giving information, and constant attempts at getting a
There's one good scene where Murphy walks into a redneck cowboy joint with a bet about what it takes to be taken seriously as a cop, and trades places with Nolte as a detective trying to get information on where one of the guys is. Later on, Nolte and Murphy get into a fight because Murphy won't say what he knows the escaped killer is after.
Walter Hill creates one of the best cop movies ever, and a perfect movie to act as Murphy's first real vehicle for his comedy style. However, this is not comedy like, say, "Trading Places." This movie is more the comedy style of the first "Lethal Weapon" movie. Alternately serious and funny.
48HRS. (1982) *** Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Sonny Landham, Frank McRae, Brion James. One of the best `buddy' action films of all time: Nolte is in rare form as perpetually growling, angry heavy drinking San Francisco cop Jack Gates who has his hands full when a crazed cop-killing escaped con and his partner go on a rampage with his only resort being motormouthed, street smart Reggie Hammond (Murphy in his scene-stealing big screen debut that made him an overnight sensation in addition to lighting the fuse while the star of `Saturday Night Live') who coincidentally is serving a sentence for being one of the maniac's former crew members on their last gig together (a cache of money only Reggie knows where is hidden). With only 48 hours on leave from the joint the odd couple are forced to help each other overcoming their own racism, violent means and genuine opposites attract mojo working in overdrive. High octane action directed sleekly by Walter Hill and the unexpurgated energetic glee Murphy exudes kicks the film into overdrive. Look for The Busboys (Eddie's fave band) providing the ironic cover of `The Boys Are Back in Town' and for trivia buffs, that's Olivia Brown as the object of Eddie's libido, who would go on to co-star in tv's `Miami Vice' and indie star Chris Mulkey in a bit part as a uniformed cop.
Walter Hill is one of those directors who seems never to make an
average film. His movies are, generally-speaking, either very good or
very bad. 48 Hours is one of his "very good" offerings. It gives Eddie
Murphy one of cinema's most unforgettable movie debuts, and invents the
conventions of the buddy cop genre that were to become blueprints for
years to come. Every buddy picture after 1982 - including Lethal
Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Fled, Bad Boys, and a thousand more - owes
something to 48 Hours.
The film opens with psychopathic Albert Ganz (James Remar) escaping from a chain gang. Determined to track down Ganz, tough cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) springs a fast-talking convict named Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) from jail for forty-eight hours, during which time the mismatched duo must find their quarry. Cates doesn't like blacks, and Hammond doesn't like cops, so before they can even get to the business of tracking down their man they first have to come to terms with working alongside each other.
Fast-paced, energetic, foul-mouthed and funny, 48 Hours is simply a great ride. Nolte underplays brilliantly, wisely allowing Murphy to handle the loud and showy role while he etches a gruff, rugged characterisation as a cop on the warpath. The leading characters are rounded off wonderfully by James Remar, as a genuinely bad "baddie". If the plot to 48 Hours sounds like a collection of all the clichés and predictabilities that ruin most films, it's important to remember that before this film nothing like it had really been done. These plot devices and conventions are only considered "cliches" nowadays because 48 Hours was so influential, not to mention frequently-imitated, in the ensuing years. James Horner's music score is perfectly judged too. Finally, no review of 48 Hours would be complete without some acknowledgment of the film's most famous scene. I'm talking - of course - about the bit where Murphy causes a stir in a redneck bar. More often than not famous movie scenes fail to live up to their lofty reputation, but in this case that simply isn't so. It really is an electrifying screen moment.... in a film that really is an electrifying screen experience!
A seriously edgy and explosive thriller about an untidy yet tenacious San Francisco cop, Jack Cates (Nick Nolte), who must take Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), an ultra-cocky convict with him and search around the city for a brutish cop-killer, Ganz (James Remar)and his nearly out-spoken Indian accomplice, Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) and take them down in less than forty-eight hours. What made me enjoy the movie is the trust and respect that the Murphy and Nolte characters begin to show, even there are moments where they want to pound each other's head in. In addition to Nolte and Murphy (who's in his film debut), Remar is pretty good here despite having a limited amount of screen time. The photography of the city by Ric Waite is well, excellent and the skillful direction by Walter Hill can't go unnoticed. "48 Hrs." may not look as well-crafted as "The French Connection", but Hill sure knows how to make something memorable out of nothing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The incredible box office success of "48 Hours" was attributable to its
brilliant combination of action, pace and comedy and the pairing of a
couple of guys whose relationship was a continuous source of
entertainment. This formula proved to be so successful that it blazed
the trail for the whole genre of "buddy cop movies" that followed. "48
Hours" was also significant, however, for being Eddie Murphy's first
film and the one that made him into an instant star.
Detective Sergeant Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) is a tough San Francisco cop who's out for revenge after two of his colleagues are killed by escaped convicts Albert Ganz (James Remar) and Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) in a shootout at a local apartment building. Jack's investigations soon reveal that another member of their gang is still in prison serving a three-year sentence for robbery and so he arranges for Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) to be released on a 48 hour pass so that he can help to track down the two killers.
Reggie proves to be useful in assisting Jack's pursuit of Ganz and Bear who'd killed a couple of guards when they broke out of prison and are now intent on finding the $500,000 that they stole before being sent to jail. Reggie discloses that the money was stashed away in the trunk of his car which had been parked in a garage for the 30 months that he'd been in prison. Predictably though, Jack and Reggie's mission to recover the money and bring Ganz and Bear to justice within the 48 hours available, proves to be both challenging and extremely dangerous.
The relationship between Jack and Reggie is so highly-charged as it develops from open hostility to mutual respect (and eventually friendship) that it becomes absolutely fascinating to watch. It's also incredibly funny because they're so different and their interactions are so abrasive. The dialogue is sharp, witty and often coarse and when they trade insults (in pre-politically correct language) their brilliantly-written quick-fire exchanges are delivered with tremendous panache.
Nick Nolte is excellent as the gruff, hard-drinking detective who chain-smokes, always looks dishevelled and has a totally dysfunctional relationship with his badly-treated girlfriend Elaine (Annette O'Toole). Eddie Murphy is sensational as Reggie, who's a fast-talking, wisecracking, smartly-dressed ladies man with a lot of attitude and reasons of his own for being prepared to help Jack. Murphy's first appearance in the movie is very memorable because of the excruciating way in which he sings "Roxanne" and the now-legendary scene in which he takes control of a redneck bar while posing as a police officer is still terrific and laugh-out-loud funny.
In retrospect, it's clear that, as well as being a fantastically successful movie that's hugely entertaining, "48 Hours" also proved to be far more influential than anyone could possibly have imagined at the time of its original release.
Only a privileged few who remember "48 Hrs." acknowledge it as the primary
influence of the buddy-cop films of the 80's ("Lethal Weapon", "Miami
Vice"). Nick Nolte plays Jack Cates, a rusty, cranky, tough-guy cop working
the homicide department in San Francisco. When a violent chain-gang escape
reunites two hardened criminals (the greasy-looking Ganz and a towering
Indian named Billy Bear) who subsequently murder two police officers and a
prison guard, Cates is assigned to babysit paroled convict Reggie Hammond
(Eddie Murphy), an old member of Ganz's gang. Reggie has been released for
one weekend (hence the title) to aid Jack in capturing these two
cop-killers. Unbeknownst to Cates, Ganz & Billy Bear are not simply out on
a killing spree but rather in search of a very important briefcase that
belongs to Reggie.
I can't think of another film debut as explosive as Eddie Murphy in "48 Hrs.", even though Murphy's work on "Saturday Night Live" already tossed him into the public's consciousness. It's also worth noting that because director Walter Hill is known for casting interracial leads in his non-western films ("Brewster's Millions", "Crossroads", "Supernova"), never before had we seen a black man act like this in a movie; assured, aggressive and confident to the point of being cocky. It would be easy to dismiss Murphy's character as a black stereotype; well-dressed, horny, smooth-talking, bantering, but Murphy pulls his character away from stereotype cobwebs with unfiltered charisma and instinct. Think of it, most people who now wail away the chorus to "Roxanne" are invoking Murphy instead of Sting (and what a hilarious introduction that is). Also, there is the unforgettable sequence where Reggie takes over a redneck bar, posing as a cop! It's the most magnetic scene in the film, and Murphy delivers ("You know what I am? I'm your worst f***in' nightmare! That's right I'm a nigger with a badge and I got permission to kick your f***in' ass whenever I feel like it.")
Obviously, this film wasn't written as a comedy. Nolte spends much of his time hurling every kind of racial epithet imaginable at Murphy when he's not chain-smoking or guzzling from a flask. Murphy injects his humor into the story without disrupting the movie's violently grim tone, and Murphy & Nolte are excellent at creating an oil-and-water duo that keeps them at odds for most of the film. There are no stylistic explosions, but there are some tense gunfights including a chase scene in a train station and a shootout that employs a convertible and a public bus. Composer James Horner, who would come to prominence in the 90's as one of the more reverent film composers, creates an unusual, percussion-driven score heavy with Caribbean flavor. It's works well, adding an element of heat while Jack & Reggie cruise San Francisco with the top down. The film has thankfully dated pretty well, and sometimes even holds the faint resemblance of a 1970's cop film (I'm sure interracial blaxploitation movies like "Across 110th Street" served their influence). Of all of Walter Hill's work, "Crossroads" remains closest to my heart, but this is certainly his most mature effort. Expect to laugh, but expect to be shaken too.
One of the best. Brilliantly acted, very good scenes, the scene in redneck
bar and the scene where the boss has a rant after the infamous bus losing
incident are the best. The boss is excellent. The way he delivers his lines
with such anger, and the lines themselves are very hard. "YOU GO F***
YOURSELF CONVICT!!!" is my favourite of the whole film. The look on Eddie's
face is priceless. Just proves how class an actor he is, if proof be
Redneck bar scene is equally good. The music the band are playing fits the scene beautifully. The dancing stripper adds to the value of the scene too. She's great.
A flawless film, Eddie Murphy's best work too in my opinion.
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