48 Hrs. (1982)

(On DVD, September 2017) Ah, the eighties … peak era for police brutality and casual racism being presented as comedy engines. Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy team up in 48 Hrs. for a gritty crime comedy that prefigures much of the buddy-cop films to follow. The script is unrepentant about its use of racist profanity and brutal violence—it’s meant to be funny, but modern audiences may disagree. This being said, the film does works relatively well at what it tries to be, however distasteful this may be. Murphy is responsible for most of the laughs, most notably in a sequence in which he intimidates an entire redneck bar. Anette O’Toole has a far-too-brief turn as a peripheral girlfriend that disappears from the action without much fanfare. Director Walter Hill keeps things hopping steadily, which helps in watching the film today. While interesting as a prototype of latter action movies, 48 Hrs. has a limited appeal from today’s perspective—it’s been imitated, remixed and redone so often that Murphy aside, it’s difficult to see much of it as being distinct today.

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