- Movie Rating -

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (2024)

| July 5, 2024

The third Beverly Hills Cop sequel arrives on Netflix this week just in time for the July 4th holiday and the fact that it is skipping theaters and going right for a streaming service is probably for the best.  Like Murphy’s previous sequel Coming 2 America, the filmmakers obviously knew that it wasn’t something that you would be happy to shell out $15 a ticket without coming away with a case of buyer’s remorse.  On the whole, it is better than the Coming to America sequel, but it is still a low-flying nostalgia trip that makes you smile but doesn’t leave much of an impact.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F does its duty without a fuss.  Eddie Murphy is here, a little heavier and 40 years older, but his trademark rapid-fire delivery is somewhat off – he’s like a once-great chef whose been out of the kitchen too long.  There are returning characters; Paul Reiser is here as Jeffrey who has been promoted to DPD Chief.  John Ashton is here again as Taggert who has been promoted in the Beverly Hills Police Department.  And Billy Rosewood is here, although he’s absent for most of the picture.  Even Serge is here, played again by Bronston Pinchot, but to no real effect.

The story has Axel making problems for the Detroit police department (again) when he gets information that his old cop buddy Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), and his estranged lawyer daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) have gotten in hot water with the local drug cartel.  Seems that Billy has gotten too close to a case involving corruption in the Beverly Hills Police Department and has gone missing, and Jane has had her life threatened if she doesn’t drop a client who has been wrongfully accused of a shooting that has upper-level connections.

So, as you can tell, there’s a movie here.  The problem is that first-time director Mark Malloy has a lot on is plate, dealing with the story, the characters, the nostalgia, the action and the comedy.  But, I am uncertain whether or not it was Malloy’s direction or the script by Will Beall (Aquaman), Tom Gromican (Ghosted) and Kevin Etten (“Desperate Housewives”) that might be the problem here.  This movie has a massive pacing problem, which can be seen in the opening as Axel goes undercover at a Red Wings game and ends up in a street chase involving a snow plow.  It is obligatory in these movies that there has to be a chase in a vehicle that Axel has commandeered but this scene is too slow, too awkward.  It wants to match the pace of the first two films, which had action scenes that were inspired bits of stunt work, editing, music and sound design.  This one has action scenes that never get out of second gear, save for a helicopter chase that is admittedly a bit of fun.

Added to the the pacing issue, the movie has a serious identity crisis.  Just as a scene is reaching a pitch, it has to slow down and backpedal in order to deal with another essential element that the script keeps trying to catch up on.  Just as we are getting Murphy’s comic delivery, it is stepped on by a nostalgic retread of the previous films and then just as we get some warm feelings from the nostalgia, the movie wants to deal with the drama of Axel and his daughter and their fractured relationship.  And then we get another ridiculous action scene followed by characters that we have to catch up with.

Buried somewhere in all of this is a functioning cop movie.  I was interested in the case that Axel and Jane were following involving a high-level BH police Captain, played with effective sleaze by Kevin Bacon,  who is so brazen and so tightly connected that he can practically announce his corruption on a billboard and no one can touch him. 

Added to that is a nice rapport between Axel and Jane whose fractured relationship adds to the fulcrum of the drama.  What happened?  Why did they split?  Why is she so angry with him.  Their relationship could have made for a short film all its own.

But again, just as this relationship is getting interesting, a new action scene pops up and we have to put their drama on hold.  There is too much that this movie has to get done, and what it does is largely done with a lead foot.  Let’s put it this way, if I complained that Beverly Hills Cop II was too fast, too hectic, too loud and too over-the-top, this one is the exact opposite.  It works in fits and starts (which fitfully describes the narrative structure) but as a whole it never really builds much momentum.

The Beverly Hills Cop movies have always been effective markers of the trajectory of Murphy’s career.  The first movie was a monster hit that elevated him to superstardom the way that Smokey and the Bandit did for Burt Reynolds.  Beverly Hills Cop II was made during the period of his career when his choices were starting to get lazy but the box office was still strong.  Beverly Hills Cop III came out when his career was in free fall, after a string of bad choices like Harlem Nights, Another 48hrs, The Distinguished Gentleman and Boomerang.  This new movie comes out in the cloud of nostalgia but also in a redefinition of Murphy’s career.  Yeah, there was the lackluster Coming 2 America but there’s also been Dolemite and Shrek and an Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls.  I think he’s on the right track.  I don’t really need nostalgia from Murphy, just something original and new.  Maybe another concert film.  I’d love to see that.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2024) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Comedy