Starring: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Sonny Landham, Brion James, Annette O’Toole, Frank McRae, Kerry Sherman, Jonathan Banks, James Keane, Greta Blackburn, Margot Rose, Denise Crosby, Olivia Brown, Bill Cross, and Chris Mulkey.
Directed by: Walter Hill.
Released: December 8th, 1982.
48 Hours is an action/comedy film that has a lot going for it. It’s the role that launched Eddie Murphy to super stardom, it’s the first movie Joel Silver produced, and it’s the film that started the buddy cop film genre which gave us films like Tango & Cash, Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, The Last Boy Scout, Running Scared, Die Hard with A Vengeance, and Rush Hour. In 48 Hours, Eddie Murphy plays Reggie Hammond, a convict who is teamed up with Jack Cates, played by Nick Nolte, an alcoholic detective. Together, they must work to stop a cop-killer on the loose and they only have 48 hours to do so, hence the title.
The chemistry between these two characters is amazing and highly entertaining. It’s fun to watch Murphy’s Reggie trick Nolte’s Cates into thinking he can tackle any situation, and he does so perfectly. Such as the scene where he walks into a bar filled with rednecks and impersonates a police officer in order to get some information. This magnificent buddy cop duo have many moments like this throughout the movie. Both suspect one another at first but that suspicion slowly turns to a tamer form of dislike, so to speak.
Director and writer Walter Hill does a good job at presenting vulnerable and human characters like Reggie and Jack, just as well as he does with atmosphere and action sequences, all of which have become a staple of his over his past films. Aside from our heroes, actor James Remar gives us a vicious cop-killer villain and Annette O’Toole portrays Nolte’s hate-filled wife who can’t stand him. There’s nothing extraordinary about the plot of 48 Hours for the most part, it’s a really simple story that is told here but what makes it stand out is the execution of it all.
We’ve had a slew of funny and action-packed buddy cop films since 48 Hours, most of them being pretty good with the exception of two or three sequels here and there. However, the buddy cop film genre may have been milked dry already; nevertheless, you can witness the birth of this entertaining style of cinema in 48 Hours.