Veteran San Francisco police officer Jack Cates has been after drug dealer "the Iceman" for the past four years. At the Hunter's Point Raceway, Jack confronts Tyrone Burroughs and Arthur Brock. Jack kills Brock, while Burroughs escapes. Despite killing Brock in self-defense, Jack is now under investigation, as Brock's gun cannot be found at the scene. Blake Wilson, the head of the Internal Affairs division, becomes determined to prosecute Jack on a third-degree manslaughter charge. Jack finds a picture that proves that the Iceman has put a price on the head of Reggie Hammond, who is scheduled to be released from prison the next day.
Reggie has completed his prison term for robbing a payroll (a crime for which he claims complete innocence), and is scheduled to be released. Jack tries to convince Reggie to help him clear his name and find the Iceman. Reggie requests that Jack gives him the $500,000 that Jack has been holding on to for him. Jack refuses to give Reggie the money unless Reggie helps him. After the bus transporting Reggie is attacked by two bikers and Jack gets shot, Jack forces Reggie to help him by having the hospital release Reggie into his custody. Reggie recognizes one of the two bikers as Richard "Cherry" Ganz, the brother of Albert Ganz, the escaped convict Jack killed years earlier. Cherry and his partner Willie Hickok are the hitmen who have been hired to kill Reggie. Burroughs, who works for the Iceman, was trying to hire Brock as insurance, just in case Cherry and Hickok failed. When the Iceman murders Cherry and Hickok's primary contact man, Malcolm Price, Cherry kills Burroughs, after the latter reveals himself to be an associate for the Iceman.
Reggie is captured by Cherry and Hickok, and Jack confronts the two criminals at a local nightclub where Ben Kehoe—Jack's friend and fellow officer—is revealed to be the Iceman, with another detective, Frank Cruise, serving as an accomplice. A gunfight ensues, with Jack wounding Hickok and killing Cruise. After killing both Hickok and Cherry, Reggie is held captive by Kehoe and used as a human shield. Reggie sarcastically begs Jack to shoot him. Jack does so, firing a shot into Reggie's shoulder, wounding him and throwing him off Kehoe. Jack then shoots Kehoe, killing him. Before Reggie is transported to the hospital, he and Jack share a few parting words. As the ambulance leaves with Reggie, Jack realizes that Reggie has once again stolen his lighter.Eddie Murphy as Reggie Hammond
Nick Nolte as Jack Cates
Brion James as Ben Kehoe/Iceman
Kevin Tighe as Lieutenant Blake Wilson
Ed O'Ross as Frank Cruise
David Anthony Marshall as Willie Hickok
Andrew Divoff as Richard "Cherry" Ganz
Bernie Casey as Kirkland Smith
Brent Jennings as Tyrone Burroughs
Ted Markland as Malcolm Price
Tisha Campbell as Amy Smith
Felice Orlandi as the Warden
Eddie Murphy had been paid $200,000 for his role in the original film. By the time of the sequel, his fee was $12,000,000 up front, plus a percentage of the gross.
The film was based on an original story by Murphy who asked Hill if he was interested in directing. Hill:
I was, to tell you the truth, a little skeptical. They usually come out twice as expensive and half as good. Not always. I think the Leone movies always got better, and there are a few others. And I felt the studio might encourage me to make a softer film, and if you made a softer version of 48 Hours you're going to have Beverly Hills Cop... So Eddie jumped up, and he convinced me he really very much wanted to do a movie that represented the spirit of the first one, with a lot of street energy and the hard edges of the original. Then Nolte called me a day later, and said, 'Whaddya think, Walt?' ... Nick said, 'If we do one and it stinks, we're still batting .500, which I assume is pretty good in the American League.
Hill added that "the plot – which Eddie suggested – is actually kind of intriguing. So why not do it?... A lot of folks will say I'm just doing it for the money. What I want to know is, why do they think I made the first one?"
The original workprint of the movie was 145 minutes long. It was cut by either director Walter Hill or the Paramount studio down to 120 minutes, and a week before its summer theatrical release an additional 25 minutes were cut out by Paramount, making a final theatrical version 95 minutes long, but also creating lot of plot holes and continuity mistakes in the movie. Frank McRae's reprisal of his role from the original 48 Hrs. was entirely cut except for a brief, uncredited shot of him in the background of one scene in the police station. Also removed was a scene which was partially shown in the theatrical trailer in which Jack explains to Reggie that he has a deadline to track down the Iceman; as such, there is no mention of '48 hours' anywhere in the final film. Brion James, also returning from the original, saw his role severely cut down as well, to create a faster-paced action-comedy. In an interview, James said this about the cuts made on the film:
Total Recall came out a week before Another 48 Hrs. (1990) that summer, it made twenty-five million, became the number one movie in the country and the studio panicked because they had invested a lot in the 48 Hours franchise, but they felt that at well over two hours, that the movie might be too much. My stuff was in there until one week before the film opened; that is when they cut twenty-five minutes out of that movie, a week before it opened. It went from around 140 to down around 95 minutes. They said, "Cut all the behavior, action, comedy..." I lost every major scene I had. That's the last time I ever cared about a movie because I went to the press screening and it was like getting kicked in the stomach, seeing what is not there. I was the third lead and now I looked like a dressed extra. All the stuff that they had in the set-up, stuff in the trailer, all those scenes were gone.
The film grossed more at the US box office than its predecessor and made $72.7 million from foreign markets for a total of $153.5 million. However this was considered a box office disappointment and because the film was so costly, profits were minimized.
However, critical reception was very negative, and it currently holds a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews. Vincent Canby of The New York Times stated that it was "as much a star vehicle for Mr. Murphy as The Gorgeous Hussy once was for Joan Crawford. The Crawford name isn't idly invoked. You have to go back to the old M-G-M days to find movies that, with every gesture, let the audience know it was watching a star." Canby continued, "Though the body count is high, all of the people killed are faceless or only minor characters, until the end. It's as if the movie were saying that lethal violence is acceptable (and fun) as long as the victims–like the victims of guided missiles and high-altitude bombing–remain anonymous. Any comedy that allows the mind to ponder high-altitude bombing is in deep trouble."
Los Angeles Times critic Peter Rainer also gave a negative review, calling it "a crude rehashing of the high points of the first film" and singling out director Hill, who he said "surely recognizes the hollowness of what he's doing here. He tries to ram through the muddled exposition as quickly as possible; essentially, the film is wall-to-wall mayhem, with more shots of hurled bodies shattering windows than I've ever seen in a movie."
Murphy accused Paramount of not spending enough on advertising and changing the release date. Paramount counter-alleged that Murphy did not spend enough time promoting the movie. This led to tension in the long-running relationship between Murphy and Paramount.
- "The Boys Are Back In Town" - Jesse Johnson 4:01
- "Give It All You Got" - Curio 4:37
- "I Just Can't Let It End" - Curio 3:52
- Another 48 Hrs., film score~The Courthouse - James Horner 3:18
- Another 48 Hrs., film score~Main Title - James Horner 4:11
- Another 48 Hrs., film score~King Mei Shootout - James Horner 7:36
- Another 48 Hrs., film score~Birdcage Battle - James Horner 4:43
- I'll Never Get You Out of This World Alive - Michael Stanton 2:25
The original version of "The Boys Are Back in Town" by the Busboys was not on the soundtrack, but played at the end of the film.
The song "Drinking Them Beers", by the country music singer Tompall Glaser also appears in the movie during the time that Nick Nolte's character is in the diner at the beginning of the film. This song is also not on the official soundtrack of the film.