Film Review – Beverly Hill Cop: Axel F

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Part of what made the first Beverly Hills Cop (1984) a success was the perfect blend between performer and character. On one hand, you had Axel Foley, a fast-talking Detroit detective getting dropped in the middle of Rodeo Dr. and causing a whole bunch of mischief. He was played by Eddie Murphy, a 22-year-old comedian from SNL whose star was rising fast. Foley and Murphy were outsiders looking to upend the natural order of things. The result was one of the biggest hits of the ‘80s and Murphy becoming a world-wide megastar. It’s that mix of fact and fiction that made the franchise so endearing to fans, even if the following two sequels didn’t quite live up to the original.

Luckily, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (2024) does something different. It’s been forty years since the first film came out, and a lot has changed for its leading man. Murphy has gone from the hot young outsider to someone deeply entrenched in the establishment. After a barrage of family films, animated voicework, and an Oscar nomination, I wondered if he could still tap into the same mentality with his return to Foley. I’m happy to report that he does so with ease, using his quick wit and comic timing to once again inhabit the character with charm. He now has the added benefit of being an older man, carrying his age and experience to bring new dimension to the part. I’ve always been wary of “Legacy Sequels” as the worst of them rely too heavily on nostalgia as opposed to telling a good story. Fortunately for us, this does a better job balancing the two sides.


Director Mark Molloy (along with screenwriters Will BeallTom Gormican, and Kevin Etten) doesn’t stray too far away from what made the original work. The narrative is frontloaded with familiar faces, scenes, and music. Of course, the iconic score makes its return as well. We reunite with Foley in Detroit, still working the mean streets and leaving plenty of property damage in his wake. The opening set piece has him chasing down bad guys while driving – of all things – a snowplow. Foley gets called back to California when he learns that his estranged daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) was involved in a targeted attack. She is a defense attorney whose most recent client may have been set up due to police corruption. To make matters more complicated, once Foley arrives in L.A., he teams up with fellow detective Bobby Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who – coincidentally – shares a romantic history with Jane. And so, the three must work through their personal issues, solve a murder, and not be killed themselves. Their investigation leads them to Kevin Bacon’s Captain Cade Grant. Bacon plays Grant so obviously crooked that he is only missing a mustache to twirl. 

As you might expect, we get a handful of returning faces alongside Murphy. Judge RienholdJohn Ashton, and Paul Reiser all make appearances, but feel like they are here to simply scratch our nostalgic itch. Bronson Pinchot shows up as the memorable Serge. This time, he partners with Nasim Pedrad’s character, and the two expand on Serge’s scene from the first film to make one of the funnier sequences here. But what makes Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F arguably the best sequel of the franchise is the introduction of new characters. Taylour Paige and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are game in their respective parts. They keep up with Murphy’s hijinks, tossing punch lines around like hot potatoes. During dramatic moments, they hold their own. The neglectful parent/resentful child dynamic is a well-worn story convention. But the way it plays out between Paige and Murphy’s characters feels authentic. The two bring just as much heart to relationship as the laughs.

In terms of the action, the production kept things grounded and realistic, which is a good thing. Too often, studios try to render their action as big as possible, relying too heavily on CGI effects to pull it off. The result are scenes that are epic but lifeless because we can see that it was made digitally. There’s no doubt that some of that was used here, but to supplement the scenes as opposed to dominating them. When Foley drives said snowplow through Detroit, it actually looks like he is doing it. When he gets into a high-speed chase through Beverly Hills, it appears like it is happening in real environments. When he smashes a truck through the front door of a mansion, it looks convincing. The central action scene involves police vehicles chasing down a helicopter. The action is impressive because it is shot and edited as though it were done practically. There’s an old school, throwback approach to the set pieces. I’d much rather see smaller scaled action done with analog effects compared to big scale extravaganzas made with cheap looking pixels.


Is there a reason Netflix dropped this as a streaming release instead of theatrical? It checks a lot of boxes that would entice people to get out of the house: A Fourth of July release date, starring Eddie Murphy, a familiar property, funny comedy, well designed and executed action scenes, etc. Just because it’s a legacy sequel doesn’t automatically mean it won’t be a hit, as films like Top Gun: Maverick (2022) have proved. It seems Netflix is leaving a lot of money on the table by immediately putting this out for home viewing. It shows that the industry isn’t quite sure what to do with streaming at this point. There is a lot of talk about audiences not going to theaters, and yet films like this (which already have a built in fanbase) don’t get the opportunity to be shown on the big screen. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out.

I was pleasantly surprised by Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. Is it a game changer for the action-comedy genre? Probably not, but it is a fun watch. Eddie Murphy is at his best when he plays characters with an edge. It’s as though he is looking at us and saying, “Can you believe I’m getting away with this?” He may not be the spritely young man he once was, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that – when given the right material – he still has “It.”




Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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