48 hours

48 Hrs.” is a perfect example of all of the elements coming together to create something magical. Like all great buddy films before it (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” immediately springs to mind), “48 Hrs.” clicked thanks to the chemistry between Nick Nolte and new kid on the block Eddie Murphy.

48 hours. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
That’s how they’re listed in the credits. To see an example of how the tables can turn in Hollywood, check out the credits for “Another 48 Hrs.,” the belated 1990 sequel, which stars Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. After “Trading Places,’ “48 Hrs.” helped launch Murphy’s career into the stratosphere. He followed “48 Hrs.” with “Beverly Hills Cop,” and a legend was born. Nolte, on the other hand, had always been one of Hollywood’s most durable players, but he wasn’t hitting them out of the ballpark like he used to. “48 Hrs.” changed all of that. Not only was “48 Hrs.” a hit, it was a huge hit. It was a major audience pleaser, who lined up to catch Nolte’s tough cop routine and Murphy’s wise ass con routine.

Nolte and Murphy have so much chemistry together that when they reunited seven years later for the sequel, it appeared as if they had never been apart. “48 Hrs.” was also a triumph for director Walter Hill, who co-wrote the screenplay with some heavy hitters (Roger Spottiswoode, Larry Gross, Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart). After penning several successful screenplays and directing some interesting yet not very commercial films, Hill struck pay dirt with this tough, gritty, engaging and occasionally funny crime drama set in San Francisco. The film starts off with a bang, or actually several bangs. That’s the noise the guns make that belong to convict Ganz (James Remar) and his escape accomplice Billy Bear (Sonny Landham). After killing two guards, Ganz and Billy Bear hightail it to San Francisco, where they hope to recover the half-million dollars that was stolen in a robbery years earlier.

After killing one accomplice, Ganz and Billy Bear kidnap the girlfriend of another named (David Patrick Kelly), forcing him to come up with the loot or else. Luther (Kelly) knows where the loot is stashed, but has to wait until the weekend is over until he can get to it. Meanwhile, Detective Jack Cates is hot on Ganz’s trail after Ganz iced his partner. Anxious to nail Ganz, Cates double checks his file and learns that a member of his team is still locked away, safe and sound from Ganz. After greasing a few palms, Cates manages to get con Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) out on a “48 Hrs.” pass in exchange for helping him find Ganz.

Hammond has his own reasons for finding Ganz. Hammond wants to protect his investment, so he and Cates must find Luther before he finds the cash, and find Ganz and Billy Bear before they kill again. Filled with colorful, sharp and sometimes derogatory language, the screenplay is a smashing blend of balls out action and engaging buddy comedy. Cates and Hammond are as different as night and day, literally. Cates is so involved in his work that he’s letting his girlfriend (the lovely Annette O’Toole) slip away. He dresses like a slob and drives a piece of crap Cadillac. Hammond, on the other hand, can’t wait to get his hands on some female flesh, dresses like a businessman, and drives a foreign sports car. Yet by the end of the film they finally see eye to eye.

Hill does an excellent job of cutting the film together, creating a rhythm that fuels the drama and accentuates the action. The film contains some wild action sequences, including a bus chase that makes Los Angeles traffic nightmares pale by comparison. Nolte is excellent as the tired and weary Cates, who just wants to get through each day with as little crap as possible. It’s a nice contrast to the character when his partner gets killed and he gets all fired up. Murphy is delightful as the foul-mouthed con who puts his special blend of B.S. into play at a country and western bar and literally steals the film. It’s Murphy at his best. Remar and Landham make exciting villains, all snarl and bite with no mercy. With a jazzy James Horner score and dazzling cinematography by Ric Waite, the film looks and sounds great. Overall, a defining film for it’s time.


VISION: [ X ] 20/20 [ ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

Nicely detailed digital transfer captures the very essence of Ric Waite’s dynamic cinematography. Delivered in the film’s original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, the transfer is sharp and clean. The transfer does a good job of capturing the warm, earthy interiors without losing any detail. The sun drenched and neon lit exteriors are the film’s calling card, with exceptional detail and depth. The film’s night scenes showcase the transfer’s industrial strength blacks, while the flesh tones are flattering without being too warm or cold. The color saturation is nicely defined, with no bleeding or fading. Handsome effort that makes watching this great film a pleasure.

HEARING: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Energetic, almost playful 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track really puts your sound system through it’s paces. The film is alive with explosions, flying bullets, screeching tires and a pumped up musical soundtrack that rocks the Casbah. The dialogue mix is exceptional, while the stereo separation is both distinct and directional. Even during the film’s slower moments, the ambient noise is impressive. Check out the scenes in the police station and tell me if you’re not annoyed by someone behind you shuffling papers. The basses are thundering, sucking the very life out of the room, while the middle and high ends dazzle with their purity and clarity. Superb in every way. There’s also a powerful English Dolby Surround track and a French Language mono track.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions in English for the hard-of-hearing.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

Decent but not spectacular main and scene access menus, plus the film’s original theatrical trailer.

PROGNOSIS: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

“The Boys Are Back in Town,” and the “48 Hrs.” DVD puts them in their best light.

VITALS: $29.99/Rated R/96 Minutes/Color/15 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#011397


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