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At the Movies: “Another 48 HRS.″

June 7, 1990 GMT

Undated (AP) _ Just after the titles for ″Another 48 HRS,″ two highway patrol officers and the bartender of a remote desert tavern are blasted point-blank by a trio of Neanderthal bikers. That pretty much sets the tone for the second of the heavy-artillery movies this violent movie summer.

The first was ″Total Recall,″ with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the main marksman. Coming soon are ″Dick Tracy,″ ″Robocop 2″ and ″Die Hard 2.″

Few sequels have followed the pattern of the original as closely as ″Another 48 HRS.″ Once again, Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) is in prison - framed, according to him. Jack Cates (Nick Nolte), the loose gun of the San Francisco police department, is once more in trouble with his bosses as he continues his pursuit of ″The Iceberg,″ mastermind of a dope ring. Reggie is released and, kicking and screaming, becomes Cates’ accomplice.

Several gimmicks are repeated from ″48 HRS.″: Reggie’s singing to James Brown tapes on his Walkman; a donnybrook in a Western bar. But then, the filmmakers must have concluded, why tamper with success?

Within the first 15 minutes, the bikers shoot Jack Cates in the chest and then try to assassinate Reggie while he’s riding in a bus. The pace never slackens thereafter.

Walter Hill, who repeats as director, is one of the best practitioners of non-stop action, and he fills the screen with compelling images. He favors closeups of shoes walking toward a shootout, neon shimmering on wet streets, bodies crashing through picture windows. One bad guy falls from a building and lands on a truckload of five-gallon water bottles.

When bodies aren’t being blasted, Reggie and Cates engage in shouting matches. Their repartee fortunately is brightly written (by John Fasano, Jeb Stuart and Larry Gross) and delivered with total relish by Murphy and Nolte. Of all the bickering partners in fighting crime, they are the best.

″Another 48 HRS.″ doesn’t pause for romantic interest. No time for that. If the final unmasking of The Iceman isn’t much of a surprise, that’s OK. The movie is meant to be existential.

After a few films unworthy of his talent, Eddie Murphy returns to form with what he plays best: the fast-talking survivor in a hostile world. Nick Nolte also shines in a role tailored to his shambling frame. The supporting cast, which includes Bernie Casey as Murphy’s convict friend and Tisha Campbell as his daughter, is highly effective.

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Lawrence D. Wachs and Lawrence Gordon produced the Paramount Pictures release, which is rated R for language and excessive violence. Running time: 95 minutes.

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Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G - General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG - Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 - Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R - Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

X - No one under 17 admitted. Some states may have higher age restrictions.