BEVERLY HILLS COP: AXEL F. A Worthy Continuation of the Series [REVIEW]

The fourth “Beverly Hills Cop” is one of the better legacy sequels and continues the series with honor.


4 July 2024

beverly hills cop

After the poor reception of the third installment of Axel Foley’s adventures in Beverly Hills Cop, it seemed unlikely (if ever) that we would see another entry in the series. Eddie Murphy also leaned into family films in the latter half of the ’90s. Nevertheless, the topic of a fourth movie kept resurfacing over the years like a boomerang. Several scripts were even written (one had Foley going to Beverly Hills to solve Billy Rosewood’s murder, which indicates their quality), but none pleased the star enough to reprise his role as the cunning Detroit cop.

Despite this, attempts to revive the series continued into the new millennium. Brett Ratner (the “Rush Hour” trilogy) was set to direct, but the lack of a suitable script remained a hurdle. Eventually, Paramount, the franchise owner, decided to create a “procedural” (a series where each episode contains a standalone story). The protagonist was Aaron Foley (played by the notably irritating Brandon T. Jackson), Axel’s son, who, like his father, was a Detroit cop. In the pilot episode, Aaron had to solve the murder of a drug dealer, leading him to an elite Los Angeles district. Murphy made a guest appearance to pass the torch to the younger actor, along with Judge Reinhold, whose character (Billy Rosewood) had become mayor. Only one pilot episode was shot. Test screenings went well, but audiences perked up only during Murphy’s scenes. Thus, the studio stipulated that the series would proceed only if Murphy appeared in every episode. He declined, and the plans were shelved. For years, the pilot was unavailable, but it recently leaked online and can be watched on YouTube.

After the series was scrapped, focus shifted back to film, but a good story idea was still elusive. Murphy made it clear he wouldn’t return unless the script met his approval, intending to redeem himself for what he felt was a weak “Beverly Hills Cop III.” Finally, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Jerry Bruckheimer, a veteran of entertainment cinema who oversaw the first two films, took the producer’s chair, with significant funding from Netflix. Will Beall (“Gangster Squad,” “Bad Boys for Life”) crafted a storyline everyone agreed upon. Directorial duties were offered to newcomer Mark Molloy. And so, forty years after the first movie and thirty after the third, Foley returns to Beverly Hills. What came of it?

The film’s opening scene, where Axel drives through Detroit in his Chevy Nova (the same model from the original, though fully restored), signals the creators’ intent to frequently reference the earlier films (especially the first two). The sense of nostalgia is further enhanced by the distinct sounds of Harold Faltermeyer’s compositions in the background (the score for the fourth film was written by Lorne Balfe), including the iconic main theme. Most importantly, nearly the entire original cast returns. Axel is joined by Billy Rosewood, John Taggart (John Ashton), his Detroit buddy Jeffrey (Paul Reiser), and even the excellent and hilarious Serge (Bronson Pinchot). The only notable absence is Ronny Cox as Bogomil. The film is deeply rooted in the spirit of the ’80s, filled with numerous Easter eggs and nods to the audience, most of which work very well.

beverly hills cop

Nostalgia is a powerful lure for viewers but can be a double-edged sword—one cannot rely solely on it for the entire plot. Hence, a subplot involving Axel’s daughter Jane (Taylour Paige), who works in Beverly Hills and has a strained relationship with him, is introduced. When Jane gets into trouble, Foley immediately rushes to the elite Los Angeles district to deliver justice once again, aided by his trusted friends and Jane’s ex-partner, Detective Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). This subplot, initially chilly but warming as the story progresses, was the element that convinced Murphy to return. Such elements can sometimes introduce unnecessary drama into this kind of movie. Indeed, Foley’s desire to reconcile with Jane results in fairly standard dialogues, causing occasional viewer fatigue. Fortunately, this is short-lived, as humor or action sequences quickly follow.

The previous installment sorely lacked Murphy’s improvisation, especially in scenes where the character needed to infiltrate a guarded location. In the latest film, the creators have redeemed themselves in this regard, even though things don’t always go as smoothly for Axel as before. Crucially, Foley remains the main character, never yielding the spotlight to others. He is still sharp-tongued, energetic, and ready to cause chaos wherever he goes. Perhaps a bit more melancholic at times, but still possessing the spark that audiences love. Murphy was born for this role and excels in it after all these years. The chemistry between Rosewood, Taggart, and Foley is also spot-on. Their scenes together are gems, though it’s a pity they don’t share more screen time.

beverly hills cop

The script relies on action movie clichés, but no “Beverly Hills Cop” movie was ever about innovative storylines. The series’ driving force has always been fun, which is present in abundance in this latest installment. Although the pacing could be tightened in a few spots, the film is well worth watching, offering another delightful tour of Beverly Hills with Axel.

The fourth “Beverly Hills Cop” is one of the better legacy sequels, continuing the series honorably. It falls just a bit short of the first two exceptional installments. During another dialogue scene between Axel and his daughter, I questioned whether the long wait for Foley’s return was worth it. Ultimately, I finished the film with a wide smile, so I think it was.

So, Axel, it’s great to see you again in good form.

Written by Piotr Zymelka.



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