In fact, 48 HRS. might be the first buddy cop action comedy ever, at least in the modern incarnation which we’re so used to seeing. And despite its age, the odd couple pairing between Nolte and Murphy definitely has some longevity. Eddie Murphy was a risky young comic making his film debut here and although he’s funny, brash and fast talking, he’s different than the Murphy we’ve come to love since BEVERLY HILLS COP. He plays Reggie Hammond a little more straight, less showy and less silly than Axel Foley but still effective and definitely dominates the film. The scene in the redneck club is classic Murphy and you can definitely see seeds for the actor’s long career ahead. On the other hand is Nick Nolte, still playing gruff and angry as the straight cop. Nolte is eerily reminiscent of Josh Brolin here, but with a little more of a grumpy, somewhat racist demeanor.
Action maestro Walter Hill (THE WARRIORS, RED HEAT) directs from a script from Roger Spottiswoode (TOMORROW NEVER DIES) and Steven E. De Souza (DIE HARD, STREET FIGHTER) and the result is a very competent comedy-thriller. There’s some decent action beats, a good amount of violence and some other impressive stuff, like a 3 minute continuous shot at the police station that plays up the chaos of the job. The script is lean, mean and crass, with a lot of sexual references (to be expected as Murphy’s character has been celibate in jail) and a fair amount of racially charged humor. Hill, Murphy and Nolte definitely don’t sugar coat anything.
48 HRS. might not seem too original by today’s standards, but with something of a pioneering premise and a talented young duo at its center, it definitely paved the way for future flicks like LETHAL WEAPON, BAD BOYS and, um, RUSH HOUR.
Extra Tidbit: This was Joel Silver’s first film as a producer.