review

Eddie Murphy brings fun, chaos and a slightly grown-up Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop 4

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
Eddie Murpohy is back in action in Beverley Hills Cop: Axel F.
Eddie Murpohy is back in action in Beverley Hills Cop: Axel F. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix 2024

Actor Ronny Cox played the cantankerous police boss Andrew Bogomil in the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies and was slated to be in the third. He didn’t ultimately sign on. Years later, he told AV Club, “They wanted me to be in Beverly Hills Cop III, but… I read the script.”

It’s been 30 years since the third instalment (a ridiculous movie involving a counterfeit ring being run out of a Disneyland-esque park) of the Beverly Hills Cop movies and given the critical drubbing and mediocre box office that befell it, it’s no wonder Eddie Murphy opted to let it go. Until now.

Four decades since Murphy burst onto screens as the fast-talking, street-smart and chaos-causing Axel Foley, and he’s back. It’s better than you had any right to expect it to be.

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Murphy was a tender 23 years old when the original movie came out in 1984 and he was fresh and dynamic, a force that couldn’t be contained. It’s why the movie worked because you couldn’t stop watching him bulldoze everything in his path, not through brawn but through wit.

He wasn’t the conventional hero but he was the guy you wanted to be friends with, no matter the pandemonium he would bring.

Axel F is the fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie.
Eddie Murphy with original stars John Ashton and Judge Reinhold. Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix/Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

The film was originally written for Sylvester Stallone but surely there’s no universe in which this version exists? Murphy and Axel Foley are inextricably linked.

He is now 63 years old but that same verve is still there. Maybe not to the same degree because it has been 40 years (do you feel old just reading that sentence?) but the core of the performance is still there. Murphy crackles, and is much more present than he was in Beverly Hills Cop III which everyone involved seemed to treat more like a Naked Gun movie than not.

Returning friends Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Paul Reiser and Bronson Pinchot only beds in the idea that it’s like going on beach holidays with your old friends. Joining them is Kevin Bacon, who makes his franchise debut, but also speaks to that era.

When the familiar electronic strains of Harold Faltermeyer’s theme song starts up, you’re transported to a land of palm trees, luxury cars, plastic fantastic faces and tiny dogs – and the zaniness of the man who wreaks havoc on them.

A scene from the film Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.
Eddie Murphy brought the goods. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix 2024

Axel Foley arrives back in town when his daughter Jane (Taylour Paige), a criminal defence lawyer, is threatened by a drug gang with a connection to crooked cops. Father and daughter are estranged and have some issues to work out while trying to stay alive with the help of Axel’s mates and detective Bobby Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), her ex.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is a nostalgia piece, through and through. It evokes the energy of the personality and action-led 1980s and 1990s action flicks where wisecracks fly as often as bullets.

But there is an emotional dimension to the film as well. Axel trying to make up for lost time with his child suggests the character has grown up, at least a little, as he should. Otherwise, what’s the point of doing this again?

He can be more than just the dude who will destroy scores of cars, infrastructure and property in pursuit of the bad guy. Not that that’s not fun too.

Rating: 3/5

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is on Netflix today from 5pm AEST

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