Murphy's Cocky Con Niggles Nolte
Long before director Walter Hill gave Eddie Murphy his movie debut in "48 Hrs." there had been buddy movies, from cops with cops to cops with bad guys but in many ways "48 Hrs." is responsible for many a movie which followed. It gave us the formula of a tough no messing cop with a smart ass side kick, the whole aspect of not liking each other but ending up bonding and so on and so forth. That formula has been used and added upon in so many movies since that watching "48 Hrs." now sadly makes it feel quite ordinary and you forget what an important movie it is.
After Albert Ganz (James Remar) is busted out of prison by his friend Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) they end up killing a couple of cops and in doing so having gruff det. Jack Cates (Nick Nolte - Tropic Thunder) determined to track them down especially seeing Ganz used Jack's gun in one of the killings. But in order to do so Jack has criminal Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy - Imagine That) released into his custody for 48 hours as Reggie knows where the money is that Ganz is after and is the only one who can help no matter how much Jack despises the cocky, wise ass.
Forget the fact that "48 Hrs." is an important movie when it comes to the buddy movie formula and just focus on the storyline and to be honest it's not much. In fact what we have is routine as Jack is after a couple of criminals who killed a couple of cops. We have this slow drama as Jack and Reggie track down Ganz, have a couple of near misses and every time end up being shouted at by Police Chief Haden. All of which builds to an inevitable final gun battle which is rather boring, in fact to be frank the basic storyline of getting Ganz is boring.
But then "48 Hrs." in truth is not about getting Ganz but establishing the comedy of a tough cop working with a smart ass criminal. Now watching "48 Hrs." now it seems extremely routine. Jack dislikes Reggie, Reggie winds Jack up and slowly they come to respect each other to the point of almost being friends. But this was something reasonably new back in 1982 when the movie came out and I remember thinking it was much funnier when I watched it back then than I do now.
Aside from giving us the cop & criminal buddy formula "48 Hrs." is also the movie which saw Eddie Murphy make his movie debut. It's an enjoyable performance from Murphy as Reggie, cocky, arrogant and a touch of attitude, not as loud as the movies which he would make soon after but a confident debut. In fact Murphy ends up outshining Nick Nolte who as Jack ends up quite a monotonous character.
What this all boils down to is that watching "48 Hrs." now it ends up feeling like an average and typical cop / criminal buddy movie. But the thing to remember is that when "48 Hrs." was released it was new and fresh and has influenced countless movies which have followed.