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Nick Nolte as a surly, Neanderthal cop and Eddie Murphy as the fast-talking convict he springs to help him catch a pair of killers. This coupling of the physical and the verbal is one of director Walter Hill's favorite ploys; if it doesn't come off here quite as meaningfully as it does in Hill's Southern Comfort, the film is still an entertaining and invigorating thriller, with a structure and some curious sexual overtones that suggest Howard Hawks's A Girl in Every Port. Hill excels as usual with his chugging, stylized action scenes, and his use of San Francisco achieves something I'd thought impossible—it gives this most cliched of movie locations a fresh, highly charged new look. All in all, a superior genre piece, if not the height of Hill's artistry. With Annette O'Toole, James Remar, and David Patrick Kelly (1982).

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