Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F – Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on July 2, 2024 in / No Comments

 

Rated R by the MPA for language throughout, violence, and brief drug use. Running time: 115 minutes. Released by Netflix.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Netflix, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel FLooking at it from a thousand-foot view, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F treads over very familiar ground – almost to the point where I was wondering if Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten had merely rewritten the 1984 original. Take away the modern filmmaking, and we’re left with the same blueprint that made Beverly Hills Cop a runaway success 40 years ago. However, time and experience have made both Eddie Murphy and his linchpin character Axel Foley more well-rounded, knowing precisely when to tickle our funny bones or get into more serious drama.

The years between Foley’s last outing in 1994 and now have not dulled his sense of humor or practically perfect timing (either comedically or being just in the nick of time for whatever’s happening). In fact, this fourth installment comes up as the best of the Beverly Hills Cop sequels and gives the original a run for its money as best of the franchise. (I’ll put it to you this way: I watched this movie twice in one day for this review. The first time to experience it, the second time to have fun with it.) Director Mark Molloy takes his cues largely from the first and second films, most notably plot devices from the first and the sun-soaked, orange-saturated hues of Tony Scott’s 1987 sequel, and mashes them together while creating something purely exciting and enjoyable.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Netflix, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel FSure, we’re rolling into John McClane’s “How can the same s**t happen to the same guy twice?” pantheon here. How many times can crimes bring the same cop to the same neighborhood where he teams up with the same partners? This is a cross-jurisdictional nightmare, plain and simple, but where’s the fun in nitpicking? Right away, we’re reintroduced to Foley, who’s still dedicated to the job as ever – a personal problem this film starts in on almost instantly. For him, it’s still all about the work and catching bad guys, even if it means ruining relationships with fellow cops, regular citizens (some of whom throw a merry “F**k you!” or two at him before the opening credits are over), his friends, or his own family.

We don’t see Janice (Theresa Randle, not appearing), Foley’s love interest from Beverly Hills Cop III here; instead, we learn that their daughter goes by the name Jane Saunders (Taylour Paige), having dropped “Foley” because of her father’s absence in her life. Now a high-powered lawyer, Saunders has been asked by family friend Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) to see about getting a wrongly-imprisoned man out of the slam, but Rosewood’s gone missing amid rumors of a conspiracy implicating police officers. And wouldn’t you know it – Foley’s old friend and Rosewood’s former partner John Taggart (John Ashton) has stepped into the Chief’s seat, left open by an absent Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox, not appearing).

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Netflix, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel FThe gang’s back together and there’s crime afoot, and there’s no better way to get to the bottom of it than turning Foley loose. Along with Saunders and her cop ex-boyfriend Bobby Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Foley tears Beverly Hills a new one while trying to rescue Billy. All the requisite car chases, horrible driving (one of this series’ finest characteristics), gunfights, and Murphy’s fast-talking delivery are laid in, and Mark Molloy has a devil of a time lighting up the screen with bold action and lots of laughs. The repartee between Foley and Abbott – not to mention the likable chemistry between Eddie Murphy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – keeps us square in the game. Taylour Paige brings her own brand of fireworks to the show, goosing each scene with practiced jabs or allowing us to see the emotional damage wrought by Foley missing out on her life.

Murphy’s latter-day career renaissance finds him in terrific form, still able to spit gobfuls of one-liners and play off his scene partners with knowing skill. It’s like we never lost track of Foley; Murphy slides right back into Foley’s Adidas sneakers with ease, continuing his portrayal of – not recreating or making a pastiche of – the man we met in 1984 who wouldn’t stop until he got the bad guy. With John Ashton and Judge Reinhold returning for support, it’s a trouble-free reprise of the dialogue rhythms and action beats that helped establish and define the 1980s action-comedy pantheon. Adding more to the throwback feel is the addition of Kevin Bacon as suave police captain Cade Grant, who’s only heard of Foley’s legend; he has no idea what he’s in for, and Bacon gets greasy with this role, reveling in the twists his character provides.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Netflix, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel FStylistically, Molloy asks cinematographer Eduard Grau to combine the matter-of-fact look of the original and Jeffrey L. Kimball’s widescreen, teal-and-orange, noir-esque palette of Beverly Hills Cop II. (Real talk, though – what was it about Tony Scott and close-ups of super-sweaty people? Cop II, Top Gun…) The result is a funky, down-to-earth hybrid that has a peculiar way of warming us just by looking at the film. Neither the overdriven saturation and overblown editing of the second film or the early-‘80s plainness of the original have taken hold; this is an entirely new visual milieu for Foley and his cohort, one that looks tangible yet pushed a little color-wise to heighten our senses and to make the city sparkle just a little more.

And the music. Where would we be without Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On,” Bob Seger’s “Shakedown,” and The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance”? We get ‘em all here, in fairly short order. Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is a love letter to the fans of the franchise, respectfully and lovingly calling back to previous films while laying in a new course for Axel Foley and his companions. The film acknowledges that the characters, actors, and audience are progressing along life’s merry highway, and it doesn’t take this lightly. Instead, Mark Molloy and company have pressed all-ahead-full with taking Foley into the new millennium, fitting him well into the weird and wild Rolling ‘20s.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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