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Monday, 16 September 2019

Retro Review: 48 Hrs (1982)

48 Hrs
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Sonny Landham, Brion James
Genre: Buddy Cop Action Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: $78 million

Plot: A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer

'Nostalgia Trip Back To 1982, Which Feels More Like A 2- Hr Filler'

48 Hrs is notable for being one of the earliest buddy cop/buddy movies that set the trend for Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour and many others later on.

A cop in Jack Cates is the survivor of a shoot-out that injured and killed several of his officers, he gives Reggie Hammond, a convict who is about to complete his 3-year prison sentence, 48 hours to help him track down the killer in Ganz, who is accompanied by his partner by the nickname of Billy Bear and the pair go on a murder spree.

The odd racial slurs such as the use of the 'N' word and misogyny marred 48 Hrs; its attempts at living up to the R-rated & 18 rated scheme of things by having Cates and Hammond trading offensive terms towards and against each other and at other people, to make it more 'realistic' sounds cheap.

The most likeable character appears to be Jack Cates' girlfriend, and given that there have been many other films of this type that have been done to death, it also makes 48 Hrs seem dated. Walter Hill's direction is not very distinguishable and is also bland and with that, the story is quite dull whilst being occasionally offensive. The buddy arc is muddled and with the way, the two main characters are written, there was little to no buddy chemistry sensed between them. Nolte's Cate's is not a redeeming character by any sense and he just comes across as charmless, narcissistic and utterly spiteful.

Billed as a buddy cop comedy, there is virtually little in the way of humour and comedy, besides the odd little scene of Reggie blaring out The Police's Roxanne behind bars (Murphy, himself, doesn't appear until after half an hour into the film), and as an action movie in general, both action and story-wise, it doesn't have much to offer in both of these departments. The bar brawl was another highlight from Eddie Murphy's Reggie, but besides that, he remains a bore and not as entertaining as I'd hoped he would be.

48 Hrs lacks the sure-fire comedy, energy and hipness of Beverly Hills Cop 1 (and perhaps 2), and nor does it have any of the buddy cop sparkle of Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. Jack's pomposity is dialled up to an eleven on the Richter scale, but his narcissism can be inexplicable, whilst Reggie is the so-called easy-going guy, but he isn't as fun and breezy as Beverly Hills Cop's Axel Foley. The story isn't compelling enough as it lacks considerable depth, and whilst the acting is mostly good from everyone, the villains are barely noticeable, characterisation-wise. The tone also is off-key and too serious and at times, miserable, this made the story boring to endure.

The other worrying problem is the portrayal of the female characters; there is an Asian female cop, but she's in it for like a few mins, Jack's girlfriend is depicted as someone who deserves to be walked all over and be treated like crap by her boyfriend, the female bad girls are depicted as lesbians/dykes, whilst the rest of the women remain topless - although at least none of them gets brutally killed off.

Final Verdict

On a recent rewatch, unfortunately, 48 Hrs, though whilst not completely unwatchable throughout, it just doesn't hold up as well today, as it feels dated. It isn't a great movie, but I give it credit for being an influential one. This might have heralded the arrival of Eddie Murphy as a movie star, following on from his success on Saturday Night Live, but with this offering and during the much earlier stages of his career, he had yet to find his touch, until 1983's Trading Places came along.

Walter Hill's next buddy-cop entry was 1988's Red Heat: the Arnold Schwarzenneger effort, 7 years on, and one that is arguably a tad more entertaining than 48 Hrs.


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