48 Hrs is a great buddy-action flick but not because of the story but, like others in the genre, the dynamic between the two leads. Both Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy do a great job bouncing off one another which provides for some good laughs mixed in with well done chases. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray doesn’t do either of them justice as the, specifically, video transfer is pretty bad with only a couple of scenes that actually looks like its high-def while everything else is blotchy.
48 Hrs. (1982)
Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Crime
Paramount | R – 96 min. – $24.99 | February 22, 2011
Directed by: Walter Hill
Writer(s): Roger Spottiswoode and Walter Hill & Larry Gross and Steven E. de Souza (written by)
Cast: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O’Toole, Frank McRae, James Remar
Theatrical Release Date: December 8, 1982
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Mono), Spanish (Dolby Mono)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Plot (from back cover): Cates (NICK NOLTE) is a rough-edged cop after two vicious cop-killers (JAMES REMAR and SONNY LANDHAM). He can’t do it without the help of smooth and dapper Reggie (EDDIE MURPHY), who is serving time for a half-million dollar robbery. As the boys race the clock, they discover they have only one thing in common: they’d both kill to find the bad guys…if they don’t kill either other first!
The premise outlined above is actually simpler than that but I figure it’s worth giving the whole story just in case. The buddy cop genre might’ve been launched in 1987 with Lethal Weapon but I’d argue it all started with Nick Nolte before he was completely bonkers and Eddie Murphy before he became a shit actor in 48 Hrs. Yes, I submit that it technically isn’t a buddy-cop movie since only one of them is a cop, but it’s the same type of story with two polar opposites forced to work together – most often by a black police captain – to capture a ruthless and murderous bad guy.
But being the frontier in a classic genre isn’t enough because it all starts with the casting since the story tends to be rather pedestrian, and in the case of 48 Hrs, this is no exception. First, I will at least give some credit to James Remar for being a formidable psychotic antagonist especially since his motivations are rather simple: money.
However, the real reason this film has stood the test of time, and why Lethal Weapon has as well, is because of its two stars. It’s kind of funny to see Nick Nolte playing up a cop that, for its time, was crazy but compared to his now real life persona is quite normal. Eddie Murphy meanwhile is pleasantly subdued since this was his first feature film coming out of “Saturday Night Live” where later roles would have him bouncing off the walls torpedoed toward near annoyance. The two together works so well off one another, similar to Glover and Gibson in Lethal Weapon or Chan/Tucker in Rush Hour and neither of those movies had overly enthralling stories. Obviously the twist here is that one is a cop and the other is a con so there’s an extra dynamic we haven’t seen in the buddy genre but the fun and, from what I read, improvisation Nolte and Murphy provides makes the entire so enjoyable and timeless.
The film also was directed by Walter Hill who is most notable for helming The Warriors a few years before and you certainly see the same sort of style in 48 Hrs with a darker look, even during the day time, and even dark subject matters dealing with race (early on Murphy goes into a white-redneck bar to get answers and later Nolte enters into a black dominant club) so no matter what the genre is or how the simple the plot may be, Hill doesn’t steer away from controversy and watching this today, there were some things said that surprised me.
48 Hrs may not be a great buddy-action flick like Lethal Weapon was but for its time and the chemistry between Nolte and Murphy, it’s certainly well worth checking out again today, especially before they decide to do a sanitized remake.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
All we get is the theatrical trailer (3:09; HD). While I didn’t expect to see the studio pony up for any new features, it still would’ve been nice to have the extra scenes shown for the TV version…
VIDEO – 2.5/5
48 Hrs. comes to Blu-ray in its original 1.85 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The picture in a word looks lousy. There are only a couple scenes where it actually looks good and well detailed and it’s only close-ups while most of the film consists of film damage (some sort of blue lines running vertical in some shots) and downright dirty with plenty of grain and noise disrupting any kind of levels of detail and background objects are even more blurred. I realize this is an old film and Paramount doesn’t want to sink too much into a proper transfer, but this is definitely not a great looking picture and maybe only ever so slightly better than its DVD counterpart, but I emphasize the word slightly.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The disc comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which is OK and a bit more of an improvement over the DVD (which has a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track). The audio here doesn’t have a whole lot of range with a good portion – from dialogue to some sound effects – coming from the center channel but the front channels do get some action with the chase scenes and even the rear speakers provide some depth with the soundtrack. It’s still not an overly impressive track but if there’s anything good about this Blu-ray release, it’s this.
OVERALL – 3/5
Overall, 48 Hrs is a great buddy-action flick but not because of the story but, like others in the genre, the dynamic between the two leads. Both Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy do a great job bouncing off one another which provides for some good laughs mixed in with well done chases. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray doesn’t do either of them justice as the, specifically, video transfer is pretty bad with only a couple of scenes that actually looks like its high-def while everything else is blotchy.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman