|Reliving the Summer of 1990 - Week Three
|by Brian Orndorf
Leaping back into the DeVille with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte for a completely unnecessary “Another 48 Hrs.”
Another 48 Hrs.
Nutshell: As Det. Sgt. Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) hunts for the mysterious criminal mastermind known as “The Iceman,” his professional conduct is called into action, leading to his suspension. Finding a clue to old pal Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), the cranky cop elects to reunite with his jailbird partner for another round of barroom and back alley sleuthing. Standing in their way is a ruthless biker gang led by Richard Ganz (Andrew Divoff), the brother of the criminal Cates and Hammond brought down eight years earlier.
1990: The original “48 Hrs.” (released in 1982) was a film that made itself known to me through constant television airings. Despite its family-friendly sanitization, I was delighted with the picture, which provided me with a preview for aggravated buddy cop behavior just before I began to embrace the genre in theaters. The film is now a classic, solidifying the precise moment Eddie Murphy became a star and Nick Nolte ceased to be interested in remaining one. Their combustible energy made for a wonderfully hostile action-comedy, guided with measured clenched-jaw grace by the conductor of gruff, manly behavior, director Walter Hill.
So why a sequel? Especially to a film that promised a limited dramatic investment right in the title? For the answer, the focus must return to Murphy, who watched helplessly as his box office appeal plummeted after his directorial debut, the funky gangster comedy “Harlem Nights,” fell short of its enormous expectations. Murphy needed a huge hit in a hurry to keep his Hollywood crown nice and shiny, leaving “Another 48 Hrs.” a foolproof opportunity to revisit a past triumph. And let’s face it, Nolte was burning off his Touchstone Pictures goodwill at the time, and Hill’s box office fortunes were sinking fast (say what you will about “Johnny Handsome” now, but nobody was interested at the time). Why would any of these guys say no to a sure thing?
Rushed into production, “Another 48 Hrs.” was backed by a bopping, celebratory marketing effort (“The Boys are Back in Town!”) and a hurricane of press when it marched into theaters, but the results failed to match not only the standard set by the 1982 picture, but the hype as well. It was a lethally dull and labored -- a stone statue compared to the finger-snap timing of the original film. To have an Eddie Murphy comedy, R-rated and completely potty mouthed to boot, and it bores? Something is seriously wrong. These days, Murphy failing is a routine occurrence. In 1990, it was practically a sign of the apocalypse. Additionally, the beloved funnyman looked bloated and depressed, unable to realign his comic chakras to the Reggie Hammond of old.
“Another 48 Hrs.” was a serious disappointment, accomplishing nothing with its fertile creative ingredients. It was a rush-job rehash, pumped into theaters quickly to scoop up fan enthusiasm during the lucrative summer season (the first film was a December release), which proved to be a semi-successful effort, but nowhere near the cash bonanza the fine folks at Paramount were preparing for. They bought new money-counting gloves and everything.
There’s not much of a bright side to the “Another 48 Hrs.” debacle, besides inadvertently introducing me to the balloonesque wonders of actress Kitten Natividad, who makes the strangest blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo here. Yes, that’s right: a two-second appearance from one of Russ Meyer’s greatest discoveries was more memorable that anything involving Murphy and Nolte.
Eh, I was 14. Enormous breasts took top priority over a sleepy star and his alcoholic co-worker stumbling through an incoherent mystery of little to no consequence.
2010: The easiest way to approach “Another 48 Hrs.” is to accept that the picture is merely product, not a film. All the principals are here to collect a check, coasting on a brand name to ring up an easy win, hastily repairing their floundering careers. It’s not a movie that’s worth a nice 95 minutes of boiling hatred, instead bringing about a tremendous swell of boredom as Murphy, Nolte, and Hill glumly go through the motions to satisfy a hole in Paramount’s summer slate.
“Another 48 Hrs.” suffers from a rusted quality, trying to resuscitate the streetwise cop noir feel of the first picture, only to lose itself in bloated ‘80’s action cinema mechanics. Whatever grainy, peppered-tongue, violent quality was alive in 1982 has been replace by a scrim of joylessness, starring two guys who’ve clearly aged roughly 10 lifetimes since their previous partnership. Nolte’s all gravel and stoop, while Murphy is constipated, unable to quip his way out of the corners Hill halfheartedly provides. The performances are lethargic and disinterested, formed by a screwy script that will do anything to tie the two films together, despite little reason to continue the same train of thought established in 1982.
Also frustrating is the film’s logic gaps, here in the form of Kevin Tighe as an Internal Affairs officer who’s hell-bent on bringing Cates down for his abuses of power, despite awareness of several attempts on the grizzled cop’s life. One would think that a point-blank assassination attempt and a car bomb would probably lend some credence to Cates’s suggestion of underground criminal activity. Of course, Hill couldn’t be bothered building an actual story, spending more time playing with his new fish-eye lenses and encouraging James Horner to submit perhaps his worst career score. Keeping the film organized, coherent, and appealing isn’t on Hill’s to-do list here.
Slogging through a plot that’s overcranked and undernourished, “Another 48 Hrs.” is a genuine waste of time. As a sequel, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. As a cop film, it’s a routine bit of corruption and chase, with drab villains and their Crayola motivations. The action scenes are overshot, cliché (a fact the feature acknowledges), and often involve layers upon layers of breaking glass, as though the film were thumbing its nose toward the glass industry after a particularly boastful claim of product integrity. And the acting is either half-asleep or just embarrassing (Divoff is a colorless villain). From start to finish, the picture is barely alive, staggering through a cardboard obstacle course while waving around a few guns and breasts to keep the audience awake.
The only difference between the 1990 and the 2010 viewings is my own developed ability to see the dollar signs in everyone’s eyes. The boys may be back in town, but somebody forgot to plan the party.
Coming next week…
Joe Dante downs an entire bottle of mescaline and makes a movie with the Gremlins.
And Warren Beatty tries to fashion his own “Batman” with help from a comic strip that debuted in the 1930s.
link directly to this feature at https://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3035
originally posted: 06/08/10 08:47:46