The 101 Action Movies brings me one of the classic buddy action movies, and despite the fact that it’s really good, it’s really tough to like any of the characters in it.
Almost all of them come across as coarse, racist, and unlikable. Nick Nolte plays Jack Cates, a bit of a loose cannon of a cop, who is trying to hunt down two cop-killers after one, Billy (Sonny Landham) busts the other, Ganz (James Remar) out of prison.
Cates wants to run them down himself, feeling responsible that his gun was used by Ganz, and commandeer a convict, and one of Ganz’s associates from prison for 48 hours, Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy).
Cates is a complete tool to Reggie, who admittedly is a criminal, but Cates crosses the line multiple times, and the two of them actually come to blows.
The two of them are forced to work together to track down Ganz by trailing another member of the gang, Luther (David Patrick Kelly) who is caught up in the action when Ganz seizes Luther’s girlfriend as a hostage.
The action sequences are quick, violent and brutal, the chases are great, and in the end the film is really enjoyable, despite the fact that I didn’t like the characters. The thing that boggled me the most was that someone like Elaine (the lovely Annette O’Toole) would want to have a relationship with someone like Cates, course perhaps that’s probably why the relationship turns out like it does towards the end of the film.
I also liked seeing familiar faces throughout the film, a fellow cop, Kehoe is played by Blade Runner’s Brion James, one of the gals in the film is played by Next Generation’s Denise Crosby, Miami Vice’s Olivia Brown and the police captain is played by Frank McRae.
One thing I caught early on, I must have missed his credit, was a very familiar feel to the soundtrack as steel drums were employed, allowing me to recall a film that is coming up shortly on the action list, Commando, and yup, James Horner gave us the score for this film.
The film romps along filling the lean 90 minute film with an excellent pace, it’s just tough watching Cates be a complete tool, because while in the end he learns to respect Reggie, I’m sure he hasn’t changed enough to be a better person himself, let alone a better cop, and I’m sure his relationship with Elaine is probably beyond salvage.
Hill’s direction is sure and strong, and the final showdown in Chinatown looks great, making great use of neon lights, and smoke to make things look increasingly dramatic, and I loved the shootout between Cate’s Cadillac and Ganz’s stolen bus.
Of note, was that this was Murphy’s film debut, and he holds his own against Nolte, and you can see a little bit of Axel Foley in Reggie’s character!
It’s not a film for all, the racial epithets, and the language may dissuade some viewers, but all in all, it was a good flick.
What’s your favorite buddy movie of the 80s?