48 Hrs. (1982)

Film and Plot Synopsis

When Jack Cates is the only survivor of a cop shooting, he springs a criminal named Reggie Hammond from jail for 48 hours to help him hunt down the murderer. For some reason, Hammond feels compelled to help. As the killer searches for a large sum of money, Cates and Hammond hone their cop / criminal skill set to bring the man in.

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48 Hrs

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’48 Hrs.’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
48 Hrs. (1982)What could go wrong if you place the most dangerous convicts into the community at large, and provide them with tools that can double as potential weapons to kill their guards? Well, when full-time killer and part-time criminal, Albert Ganz, works roadside on a chain gang in California, he takes the opportunity to use his hoe to split a few heads open, and then escape with his faithful Native American companion Billy Bear at his side quicker than you can say, “Hi-yo, Silver, away!”

A few days later, the murderous pair arrive in San Francisco, drop in on an old friend and kill him. Fresh off the heels of that murder, our boys set out to kill…some time; taking in the sites of the Golden City. And by sites, I mean hookers. And not the Julia Roberts Pretty Woman type of hookers. More like the kind that would cause you to buy “I got crabs in San Francisco” t-shirt even though you didn’t eat seafood.

Anyways, while Ganz and Billy are site seeing, the duo is interrupted by two San Francisco Police Detectives who are running down a lead on some stolen credit cards. Ganz and Billy shoot the detectives, and then try to flee their hotel, but our hero of the film, Inspector Jack Cates, played by the gravelly voiced Nick Nolte, stops them. Jack disarms Ganz but gets stuck in a Mexican standoff with Billy when Billy gets the drop on the surviving detective. This forces Jack to surrender his gun. Ganz kills the other detective, but Jack escapes unharmed. Now, Jack is pissed, but defenseless because Ganz took his gun.

Once back at the station, Jack gets a new, less impressive gun and learns Ganz and Billy used to work with a prisoner named Reggie Hammond. Hammond is still serving his sentence in a conveniently nearby prison, so Jack heads out to squeeze Reggie for information. And although Reggie will sing The Police, he will not sing for the police and won’t give anything up unless Jack gets him out of the prison. So, Jack checks Reggie out of prison for 48 hours like a library book.

Once out, Reggie takes Jack to the apartment of a gang member named Luther. Earlier in the film, Ganz and Billy kidnapped Luther’s girlfriend, and they are now holding her until Luther brings Ganz “the money”. After Luther fails to both shoot Jack and hurdle Reggie’s car door, Luther is taken back to the police station where he refuses to give up any information either.

Reggie then leads Jack to Torchie’s, a red-neck bar straight out of “a rock & roll fable”. Reggie plays cop and successfully shakes down the entire bar to get information about Billy’s girlfriend, who lives just down the street. This also leads nowhere, since the girlfriend says that she sent Billy packing on the trail of tears and hasn’t seen him in weeks. Frustrated, Jack and Reggie begin beating the shit out of each other because that is what productive investigators do.

Finally, Reggie confesses to Jack that the reason that Ganz is back in San Francisco is because he is looking for $500,000 that the gang stole from a drug dealer years ago before Reggie and Ganz went to prison. Reggie reveals that the money is hidden in Reggie’s car, which has been stored in a downtown parking garage for the last few years.

Jack and Reggie go and stake out the garage and wait to see who shows up. Luther, the man who just shot at a cop the day before, shows up and collects the car. Luther takes the money to train station, where Jack, Billy, and Ganz exchange gunfire. As Billy and Ganz escape, a cop detains Jack, not knowing that Jack is a detective. Luther flees on foot, and Reggie follows in pursuit.

Back at the police station, Jack’s sergeant berates him for not only losing the suspects but also the convict he checked out of prison. However, Jack is elated when Reggie calls him to tell him that he followed Luther to a seedy hotel and is waiting for Jack to come down to the Fillmore district.

Jack meets Reggie at the downtown dance club. When Luther unexpectedly leaves the hotel in the middle of the night, the duo tails him to a city bus. Billy and Ganz control the bus, and they immediately shoot Luther and take the money. They engage in a rolling gun fight with Reggie and Jack who are driven off the road into a store front building.

The pair return empty handed to the police station where they are both berated by Jack’s boss. Resigned to the fact that they have lost Ganz and Billy, Jack starts to head back to the prison to put Reggie into the drop slot. They stop off for a quick drink, and Jack wonders if Billy might go back to see his girl one last time before leaving town. Rather than going back to prison, Reggie suggests they check it out.

Once they are there, they find both Billy and Ganz at the girlfriend’s apartment. Reggie shoots and kills Billy, because that Indian just doesn’t understand that you can’t bring a knife to a fight with Predators or Eddie Murphy. Jack chases Ganz through the smoky alleyways of Chinatown while Reggie tries to catch up. Eventually, Ganz gets Reggie at gunpoint and uses him as a human shield. Jack doesn’t hesitate and shoots Ganz regardless, narrowly missing Reggie.

The film ends with Jack putting the money back into Reggie’s car, telling him that it will be waiting for him when he gets out in six months. Jack also reminds Reggie that if he ever steps out of line again that he will catch him, which Eddie Murphy responds to with his trademark Eddie Murphy laugh and a vow to only make crappy family movies once he is released.

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Paramount Pictures released 48 Hrs. on December 8, 1982. Walter Hill directed the film starring Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, and Annette O'Toole.

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