Movie of the Week: 48 Hrs. (1982)

Walter Hill directs Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy and James Remar in the original buddy cop thriller where a white cop springs a black convict from jail hoping to catch a killer on the loose with his revolver.

A flawless entertainment. It gave birth to a whole sub-genre and gifted Eddie Murphy the most A-List star making movie debut in Hollywood history. Amazingly well cast – beyond the superstar leads such memorable character actors as Jonathan Banks, Sonny Ladham, Annette O’Toole, David Patrick Kelly, Frank McRae, Denise Crosby and Brion James get significant speaking parts. Tough – it has the plot and energy and bloodshed of a revisionist western, only fuelled by the energy of San Francisco’s neon-lit urban nightlife. Action packed – an on-location shoot out around a crowded subway station is rattlingly well orchestrated. Iconic – James Horner’s ominous, teasing score pulls you deeply into the chases and stand-offs. Hilarious – Eddie and Nolte have a perfect mismatched rhythm. Neither willing to give up focus, both itching to have the last jab in their verbal sparring. Is thuggish detective Cates a racist? Yes, he uses his position, privilege, violence and constant verbal denigration to keep Reggie Hammond under his boot. But is the film racist? No… Murphy’s Hammond constantly lashes back or wiggles out of the power dynamic so he maintain equal footing. He doesn’t just proves he’s his unwanted partner’s peer, he forces him to accept the power imbalance shouldn’t exist. Though only when he isn’t trying to get some ‘trim’ before his weekend pass runs out. I’m not going to wax lyrical about the political importance of 48 Hrs. I watch it often and love it as a simple blockbuster first and foremost. There are very, very few movies as purely satisfying and curtly unfussy as this.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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