Good Time, the one-crazy-night crime drama that A24 released earlier this year, was a kind of departure for Josh and Benny Safdie. Yes, it had plenty of what cinephiles might already associate with the proudly underground indies of these filmmaking brothers: invasive, telephoto close-ups; an alternately harsh and hypnotic electronic score; a grubby, unromantic vision of New York City, populated with desperate schemers and antagonistic lowlifes. But Good Time was also a relatively plot-driven genre piece from two filmmakers without much experience in that field, and it was anchored by an electrifying performance by Robert Pattinson, easily the biggest movie star the two had ever cast in one of their scraggly visits to The City That Never Sleeps. It was, in other words, almost what you could call a mainstream swerve. Almost.
From the sounds of it, the Safdies are now about to make a genuine mainstream swerve, no almost about it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they’ve been tapped to reboot the 1982 Walter Hill action comedy 48 Hrs. For those who don’t remember, 48 Hrs. wasn’t just Eddie Murphy’s big-screen breakthrough. It also basically pioneered the mismatched-partner genre of the era; in the tense, racially charged rapport between Nick Nolte’s grizzled San Francisco investigator Jack Cates and Murphy’s fast-talking jokester convict Reggie Hammond, one can see the origins of Lethal Weapon and a few dozen other buddy-cop movies, although almost none of them boast star chemistry as good as Nolte and Murphy’s. (The sequel, Another 48 Hrs., didn’t quite recapture the magic.)
The Safdies will direct the new 48 Hrs. together, with Josh splitting script duties with Ronald Bronstein, just as he did on Good Time. The producers have also tapped a third screenwriter: Jerrod Carmichael, creator and star of the short-lived NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show. Whether Carmichael will also be filling Murphy’s shoes on screen remains to be seen; because the project is being billed as a remake, one has to assume it won’t reunite the original stars (though that would be a sight to see), and there’s no word yet on casting.
But whoever ends up trading gunfire and quips in the new version, hiring the Safdies to helm is a promising, intriguing development. Good Time boasted an eccentric grittiness not far removed from Hill’s own approach to crime fare, as well as a tensely abbreviated timeframe. (48 Hrs. takes its title from the length of the prison leave Nolte’s character arranges for Murphy’s.) Whether they’ll be allowed to film the whole thing in nauseating, unflattering close-up remains to be seen, however. That may be too in-your-face even for 48 Hrs.