To be fair, ANOTHER 48 HRS. isn't quite a carbon copy of 48 HRS. In the original film, Eddie Murphy's big-screen debut, Nick Nolte's name was above Murphy's in the credits. Now, Murphy takes the top credit and the sequel comes to us "in association with Eddie Murphy Productions."
Unfortunately, Murphy's new prominence in the credits is not matched by his work on the screen. The energy and go-for-broke comic creativity that he brought to the first film are only hinted at here. Indeed, he could have phoned in much of his performance. Nolte and director Walter Hill try
harder, probably because neither has had as big a hit since 48 HRS. But in the end, they are overwhelmed by what otherwise amounts to a smash-'em-up exercise in cinematic deja vu. Murphy's Reggie Hammond adds James Brown's "I Got the Feeling" to his repertoire, but he also reprises his
headphone-karaoke performance of the Police hit "Roxanne." While the first film had a scene set in a rundown Chinatown apartment building and a shootout in an upscale hotel-brothel, the sequel has a shootout in a rundown Chinatown hotel-brothel. And while the first film had one barroom brawl,
ANOTHER 48 HRS. has three--including one in which Nolte, not Murphy, holds an entire bar at bay. "It's such a cliche," Nolte's Jack Cates says to an ex-con in the bar who had been arrested by Cates and wants to settle the score. "Pretty soon a bottle will be busted over someone's head, punches
will be thrown, and someone will break a chair over someone else." Without missing a beat, Cates then busts a bottle over the ex-con's head, punches a second brawler, and breaks a chair over a third. Such moments of wit are tiny oases in a desert of boredom.
Fittingly enough, ANOTHER 48 HRS. begins in a desert, at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. There three biker-goons--one of them the brother of Ganz, the psycho-criminal killed by Cates in the original film--meet with a mobster and accept a $100,000 contract to kill Hammond. On their way out,
as if to show they are up to the job, the three murder two state troopers and a bartender. The contract on Hammond has been taken out by the Iceman, an elusive master criminal, from whom Hammond and his partner stole the $500,000 in the first film and with whose arrest Cates has been long
obsessed. That obsession now lands Cates in big trouble. At a motor-cross racetrack, he watches as a mechanic agrees to back up the bikers on the Hammond hit. But Cates' attempt to make an arrest leads to a shootout, after which the mechanic's gun mysteriously disappears. In the aftermath of the
incident, Cates faces both dismissal from the department and criminal charges as a result of the mechanic's death. Nevertheless, Cates picks up on Hammond's connection to the Iceman and intercepts Hammond as he is released from prison. Instead of the six months Hammond had left on his sentence at
the end of the first film, he wound up serving five more years on trumped-up additional charges. Hammond and Cates' hate-at-first-sight relationship is pointlessly repeated with the two eventually joining forces, once again, to catch the same criminals for different reasons. The extended
male-bonding fistfight from the first film is compressed into a couple of sucker punches here.
What also distinguishes ANOTHER 48 HRS. from its predecessor is its lazier plotting. Not only is the climax, the unmasking of the Iceman, tossed away, but it doesn't even make much sense. Early in the film, Cates identifies the Iceman's agent in the Hammond hit by using a police composite-drawing
kit. Later, it emerges that the real reason the Iceman wants Hammond dead is that Hammond knows what he looks like. But rather than having Hammond also use the composite kit, Cates drags him throughout San Francisco (barely distinguishable here from the average neon-bathed backlot soundstage) to
look at an Internal Affairs detective who Cates thinks is the master criminal. It plays as if someone had written the last half of ANOTHER 48 HRS. without reading the first half.
The idea of dropping in on Reggie Hammond and Jack Cates five years later presents some amusing and intriguing possibilities. But little thought or imagination have been devoted to considering how the two characters might have changed over the years. Instead, one of the sequel's better running
jokes is that Cates is exactly the same now as he was then. He drives the same car and wears the same clothes. He even has the same haircut. Meanwhile, Hammond, the compulsive skirt-chaser from the first film, has somehow evolved into something of a liberal curmudgeon here, scolding a woman for
putting up with an abusive boy friend in one scene and lecturing Cates about social justice in another. It's only too bad nobody lectured the producers about creative cowardice. If someone had, ANOTHER 48 HRS. might have been another good movie instead of just another damned sequel. (Violence,profanity, adult situations, nudity.)
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