Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Review

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F
Detroit detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is once more drawn back to Beverly Hills, this time for a case that will push him back into the life of his estranged daughter, Jane (Taylour Paige), who has got mixed up with some potentially deadly criminals.

by Olly Richards |
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Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Given the series’ hit rate so far, the prospect of a new Beverly Hills Cop sequel may not inspire much enthusiasm. It may even bring on a vague dread. Somehow, happily, the fourth film in the series is the most enjoyable since the 1984 original. Which is not to say it’s anywhere close to the quality of that film, but in keeping its ambitions simple it pulls off an entertaining couple of hours that are light, funny, and nostalgic without being overly self-conscious.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

It begins, as is tradition, in Detroit, where Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is still causing trouble, managing to smash up the city in pursuit of fairly minor criminals. A drug case then takes him once more to Beverly Hills, where he crosses paths with his old colleagues Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton), as well as his estranged daughter, Jane (Taylour Paige), an attorney defending a man with connections to some very dangerous people.

All involved have done a solid job in executing what most fans likely want.

First-time director Mark Molloy gives it all the feel of a 1980s movie without over-egging it. It’s partly there in the Tony Scott smoggy-sunset glow and synthy music, but it’s also in the way he warmly embraces genre clichés and largely ignores advances made in technology in the past four decades. Here, detective work is largely computer-free, a tracking device is still a big contraption with a flashing light on it, and all searches for bad guys lead to the docks and/or a mansion with a big lobby for shoot-outs. The case at the centre is barely a mystery – you could probably solve it by scrolling down the cast list – but that lack of complexity works in the film’s favour.  It lets the comedy breathe.

Murphy is not the dervish of manic comic energy he once was, but he doesn’t appear to be trying to imitate his past self. He plays the older Foley as eccentric and mischievous, rather than all out chaotic. Paige finds the right level of righteous anger as effectively the straight woman with little time for her father’s nonsense. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Detective Abbott, who is also Jane’s ex, seems largely there to plug some narrative gaps and provide exposition, but Gordon-Levitt is a welcome laid-back presence, staying chilled when Murphy goes loud.

All involved have done a solid job in executing what most fans likely want from a very belated Beverly Hills Cop sequel. This is not an action movie with the slickness or invention to take on any current blockbuster franchise. It’s cheerfully old-fashioned and easy. It feels like you should be popping open a VHS case to watch it.

Eddie Murphy’s on his best form in years in a sequel that recaptures some of the joy of the original.
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