Detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) is on the hunt for a killer. In order to find him, he needs the assistance of a wisecracking con named Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy). Released from jail for 48 hours (hence the title), the two track down the thugs, each one for their own reasons.

This was Eddie Murphy's first movie. After having made an impression on "Saturday Night Live", he wowed the critics with his performance, setting him on an eventful film career that's still going on to this day.