Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley

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Axel Foley is back in 90210 for the first time since 1994, but does he bring with him that memorable heat once more?….

Having a re-watch of the first three films of this 80/90s fan favourite franchise in preparation for the return of Eddie Murphy’s iconic cop Axel Foley and three things have stayed the same over the many years that have passed. The 1984 original is still and always will be, an action classic that is Murphy’s most memorable role – though fans of 48hrs have possibly every right to argue that.

Its sequel in 1987, while not quite bringing the magic back, is still a worthy follow up with all the original cast and the familiar tunes all in full flow, as Murphy battled against a trigger happy Brigitte Nielsen which that alone sums up the pure action mayhem that the glorious 80’s offered back then.

Beverly Hills Cop 2 is a much better film now than first remembered, but then we get to the 90’s third entry and it is possibly even worse now than when originally watched. A turgid entry that offers nothing that suggests it should carry the franchise name, with Foley himself coming across like a different character and its so bad, that a sly wry gag about its quality is muttered in this, the long awaited fourth entry that has enough confidence in itself to not only offer a joke like that, but to also unleash all the familiar beats as soon as the film starts – yes fans relax, we are not in Wonder World anymore.

With a beaming Murphy no doubt happy to be back in this world as the vocals of Glen Frey’s with his signature tune “The Heat Is On!” booming right from the opening frame, nostalgia hits fans of old like a huge comfort blanket, Axel is back in our lives and already we need to know what has happened in his life since we last saw him being greeted with an “Axel Fox” – urgh! The memories….

It seems in the passing years, Axel’s life has somewhat stalled. Still working the streets of Detroit and wearing his signature jacket, there is a sense that while the streets still need a cop like Foley, life itself has moved on. His partner Jeffery (Paul Reiser)- once a comical sidekick – is now Chief of Police, an aide to help out the calm to any carnage that Foley creates and while the film could easily go down the route of how the character now cuts a sad figure, an 80s relic in a new world, thankfully while the film lets the audience draw their own conclusions and there are gags from Foley himself, the plot is more interested in F-Bombs and bombastic action sequences and its all the more better for it. An early car chase with a snowplough as the original sequel tune “SHAKETOWN” by Bob Seger flows sweetly from the screen reinforces exactly where the intention lies.

With his estranged daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) working in Beverly Hills as a defence attorney, she is the catalyst for the return of Foley as she takes on a case of a guy accused of killing a cop and believes there is corruption among the ranks. A killer death threat set-piece on her life brings in fan favourite Billy (Judge Reinhold) who feels guilty in bringing this to her attention and while she pleads for him not to contact her Dad, being every loyal to Foley since the days when Maitland and his crew were smuggling drugs in and out with the use of crates and coffee granules, one quick phone-call and our guy is back in the land of the rich, traditionally looking down each sidewalk as he drives a beaten down vehicle through the streets of Beverly Hills.

From here, it all becomes familiar. With this entry wisely acknowledging Foley’s past visits, everyone is accustomed to what Axel brings with him and yet thankfully the much welcome return of John Ashton’s Taggart (he wisely opted out of the third) who has now taken over Ronny Cox as the Chief of Police and while as grumpy as ever and still suffering marriage woes, its just brilliant to see the the trio of Axel, Billy and Taggart share a scene after all these years, even though Reinhold surprisingly goes missing for a huge amount of screen time.

With Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bobby Abbott fitting in perfectly as a cop having a history with Jane and of course it won’t feel like a Hills Cop flick without a brief appearance from Bronson Pinchot’s Serge who is still grasping the language and offering gags that amuse. Kevin Bacon pops up in the office of Taggart offering his support to Axel, which will surprise no-one of the eventual outcome and the biggest let down of this outing is the fact that you wish the plot itself could have been more juicer, with the bad guys not really offering any real menace with the film heading off to yet climatic mansion shoot-down.

But thankfully the journey there is worth it. First time director Mark Molloy channels the world of both Martin Breast and Tony Scott and its without question the best film Murphy has done in many, many years, the wisecracks appearing when needed and then quickly disappearing as he realises his own actions have accounted towards his relationship break-down with his daughter.

With years of speculation and a failed TV pilot among the missed opportunities, to finally have a fourth Beverly Hills Cop film feels like a much welcome treat. Its a sequel that doesn’t re-write the action genre and I am guessing not many fans expected it too. All we wanted was a return to the world where it feels like we back in the glory days of the 80’s where Murphy was a fully fledged action superstar and years away from becoming a Disney regular.

Because it feels like an old fashioned watch, means it succeeds where the third film failed so miserably. Its doesn’t quite bring the heat like its original and many cynics will argue that all involved have chosen “nostalgia over creativity”, but when you feel yourself smiling and singing along to “Neutron Dance” as a brave traffic cop clings on to a ridiculous small cop cart that Axel has just apprehended… realise….”Who cares!”

Axel is back – and even a small bit of heat makes it all worthwhile.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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About Ross Hughes 564 Articles
Since my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

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