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TAC Reviews...Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy

 

In 1984 Eddie Murphy was at the beginning of his career and it was the role of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop that propelled him to superstardom. It was the first of a trilogy beginning in 1984, with the first sequel coming out in 1987, and the third in 1994.

 

Beverly HIlls Cop Trilogy

 

This was the time in his career when Eddie Murphy was a fast talking, foul mouthed, and thoroughly entertaining actor. In later years as the 1980s ended and audience no longer wanted this type of character he changed the roles that he used to do and had some successes with films like Dreamgirls which nearly won him and Oscar and other films like Norbitt (which was so bad that it was rumoured to be the reason he didn’t win the Oscar for his portrayal of Jimmy “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls).

 

However, I am not here to talk about Eddie Murphy’s choices in his career, here I am going to talk about the time when he played tough Detroit Cop Axel Foley as he travels to Beverly Hills in California to investigate various crimes.

 

TAC Reviews...Beverly Hills Cop

 

So the year is 1984 and Eddie Murphy has taken on the role of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, in which a street wise Detroit cop must travel to California to track down a killer who murdered his best friend. After arriving and starting his investigation he butts heads with two Beverly Hills Cop Police officers Taggart (John Ashton) and Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and their commanding officer Bogomil (Ronny Cox), can he convince them that an important local businessman is really a cold bloodied killer??

 

Beverly Hills Cop Poster

 

I have to say that I am a fan of Eddie Murphy, in the 1980s and 1990s he took on roles which revolved around fast talking, street wise and charismatic characters, as trends changed he adapted taking on roles that put him in family comedies. Generally I thick Eddie Murphy seems to be a fairly decent sort of chap and some of the characters he has portrayed are very memorable. One of my favourite of these characters is none other than Axel Foley who made his debut in this film.

 

Without further fan service let’s crack on…

 

Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a street smart, reformed petty criminal and a somewhat reckless Detroit detective. After an unauthorised sting operation involving a cigarette truck goes sour Foley receives the wrath of his boss Inspector Douglas Todd (Gill Hill). Returning home that night he discovers his childhood friend, and former criminal cohort, Michael “Mikey” Tandino (James Russo) has broken into his apartment, and after showing him some bearer bonds, the two head out for a night on the town. Mikey tells Axel he was working in Beverly Hills as a security guard for an art dealer. Upon their return to Axel’s apartment the pair are ambushed and Mikey is murdered by someone he knew.

 

Not surprisingly Axel wants to investigate the crime but due to his proximity to the victim Todd refuses to allow him to do so. Not someone to be put off lightly and so under the guise of going on holiday Foley heads to Beverly Hills to find Mikey’s killers.

 

Beverly Hills Cop came out at a time when Eddie Murphy was at the beginning of his career and it was the film that made him into a superstar. Axel Foley is a foul mouthed, fast talking, street smart officer who bounces off the by-the-book officers of Beverly Hills. John Ashton as Detective Sergeant John Taggart and Judge Reinhold as Detective William “Billy” Rosewood are expertly cast as the two detectives trying to determine exactly why Foley is in town and why he is harassing a seemingly legitimate local businessman. The pair are not exactly bumbling detectives however their style of investigation doesn’t exactly gel with the way Foley gets the job done. Ronny Cox is also well suited to the role of Lieutenant Andrew Bogomil, Rosewood and Taggart’s superior officer. The four main leads have a great onscreen chemistry and Foley’s tactics do not exactly fit with the straight laced way that they do things in Beverly Hills.

 

As with the majority of films about the police, the audience is shown who the murders are pretty early on. They witness Mikey being killed, and then spot the same man in the office of someone Foley goes to speak to. Typically the bad guy draws unnecessary attention to himself by acting in a very suspicious manner; the audience might be left wondering why he didn’t simply answer Foley’s questions instead of having him abruptly thrown out of his office.

 

But let’s be honest the plot is not really why we’re watching this film. This is an action film, we’re not interested in a complex plot, all we want to see is action and that is something this film delivers. Like I said the cast are all excellent with Steven Berkoff doing a pretty decent job as Victor Maitland the criminal behind the murder of Foley’s friend.

 

It is pretty hard to find anything to complain about really, I guess you could say that ultimately you know what is going to happen, that Foley and Taggart and Rosewood are going to bond and work together to bring down Maitland. So by the standards of today this is not exactly a complex story or character arc for any of those here. But Beverly Hills Cop knows what it wants to be and is laced with action but also Murphy flexes his comic muscles delivering fast paced one-liners and the other characters also get to utter a few funny lines.

 

All in all Beverly Hills Cop is a fast paced film set against the beautiful Beverly Hills backdrop. Eddie Murphy is on fine form as Axel Foley and it is not hard to see why this film would go on to spawn a sequel. The cast all fit their roles very well with the bad guys suitably unpleasant and are left wondering why they didn’t murder Foley in Detroit when they had the opportunity.

 

My Thumb is therefore Up because this is a great slice of 1980s action.

 

 

8/10 - Beverly Hills Cop is an excellent addition to the action/comedy genre and is a must-see for any self-respecting Eddie Murphy fan. It have worked batter if the story was a little more complex but it is still very entertaining and a true popcorn movie.

 

TAC Reviews...Beverly Hills Cop II

 

After the massive success of Beverly Hills Cop (the highest grossing film of 1984 and narrowly beating Ghostbusters) it was inevitable that Axel Foley would return, however, unlike many sequels which fall into the trap of simply cashing in on the success of the original Beverly Hills Cop 2 is arguably better than the original.

 

Beverly Hills Cop II Poster

 

So Beverly Hills Cop had Axel Foley travelling to Beverly Hills to find out who killed his best friend, and as a massive commercial success so it was inevitable that a sequel would see the return of Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley…the four main cast members also return to reprise their roles from the previous film.

 

What brings Axel Back to Beverly Hills you ask??

 

Take a look…

 

A gang in Beverly Hills has started committing crimes in alphabetical order (attacking a place that began with A, then a place that attacks with B, and so on) leaving notes behind at the scenes of their crimes. Captain (formerly Lieutenant) Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox), Detective Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), and Sergeant John Taggart (John Ashton) are working on solving the case. Their job is being complicated by their verbally abusive new chief of police Harold Lutz (Allen Garfield)

 

Meanwhile in Detroit, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is again feeling the wrath of his long suffering commanding officer Inspector Todd (Gill Hill) after requesting yet more money from the department to finance his background story for his latest undercover assignment…Todd grants his request but makes it clear that if Axel doesn’t make an arrest soon then he will be fired…

 

After Rosewood contacts a friend of his at the FBI to ask for help solving the alphabet crimes Lutz is furious. Bogomil stands up for Rosewood and is suspended by Lutz, after leaving the station Bogomil is gunned down on his way home; he survives the attack but is left in critical condition. The attempted murder is reported on the national news and after seeing it, Axel immediately flies out to Beverly Hills to help find the people responsible for trying to kill his friend knowing that if his boss finds out he has left town he will be fired.

 

Upon arriving in Beverly Hills, he once again he teams up with Rosewood and Taggart in order to uncover the person or persons behind the alphabet crimes. Their task is complicated by the interfering and abusive Lutz who is determined to see Taggart and Rosewood doing nothing but traffic duty and doesn’t want an officer from Detroit getting involved.

 

So Axel Foley is back in Beverly Hills this time to find out who tried to kill a man who put his neck on the line for him in the past.

 

What I really like about this film can be summarised with a photograph seen either on the desk or in the apartment of all the characters. It is Foley, Bogomil, Taggart and Rosewood standing posing with a marlin (that is a fish in case you didn’t know), so clearly in between the films they have not only remained in touch but gone on at least one fishing trip together. It shows that these people struck up a real friendship and have socialised with one another between films. It adds a greater depth to their characters, it also shows that they have had lives in between the two films and have not just met during the first film then not seen each other again until the events of this film.

 

Thinking about it, I cannot think of another film sequel that has done something like this, I mean obviously characters have lives between the films, but typically they will show flashbacks or reference it more obviously. In this film, all we see is a photo and it tells us everything we need to know about the characters and how strong the friendship they formed in the first film is.

 

If we are being honest, basically anyone who has seen the first film will know what to expect here, Eddie Murphy once more dishing out his dialogue in his fast talking, foul mouthed way, whilst bouncing off the straight-guy roles played by Taggart and Rosewood who are in danger of losing their jobs if Lutz finds out then are investigating the attempted murder of Bogomil.

 

As before the action comes thick and fast, and although both Taggart and Rosewood are more relaxed around Axel, Taggart still objects to his methods, whilst Rosewood is a little more inclined to follow Axel’s lead. The pair are also in danger of losing their jobs as Lutz has already fired everyone else who worked for the old chief (which explains why no one else from the first film returns).

 

There have been many films in recent years in which the sequel is arguably better than the original (Toy Story and Toy Story 2 for example), and Beverly Hills Cop 2 falls into the same category. Some prefer the original whilst others think that the second film is the better of the two. Beverly Hills Cop 2 doesn’t have to worry about introducing everyone, and builds upon the relationships established in the first. Once again the cast have good onscreen chemistry with Billy’s fixation with weapons becoming a running joke.

 

The film is an excellent sequel to a great original and is exactly what a sequel should be it is one that is arguably better than the original and not simply a cash in on success of the first film. It is a must-see for fans of Beverly Hills Cop, or anyone who enjoys an action packed action/comedy over a tub of popcorn.

 

Like the first film this one also gets a Thumbs Up, Eddie Murphy and the rest of the cast obviously are happy to return and are not returning to these characters to try and revive flagging careers…well…yet

 

 

9/10 – Personally I like this one better than the original but upon release it was not as well received, however, as I am an alien with a far mightier brain than you humans you can disregard the opinions of others and just listen to me. So, arguably better than the original Beverly Hills Cop 2 is an excellent film, it is not just a cash-in and a superb sequel.

 

TAC Reviews...Beverly Hills Cop III

 

In 1994 Eddie Murphy yet again reprises the role that made him a superstar and once more returns to Beverly Hills to investigate a crime committed in Detroit. Unlike the previous films this time only Judge Reinhold reprises his role returning as Billy Rosewood, regrettably this film doesn’t feature either Ronny Cox or John Ashton reprising their roles as Andrew Bogomil and John Taggart respectively.

 

Beverly Hills Cop III Poster

 

Oh dear, oh dear, what is it about a third film that means it just cannot keep pace with the previous instalments…

 

I’m just going to lift my head up from resting wearily on the console before me just long enough to tell you what is going on before smashing my face back down into the indent left there after I had read Twilight…huh…been a while since I made a Twilight reference…are people, including me, finally forgetting back that pile of crap??

 

Perhaps and if so maybe there is a ray of hope for humanity

 

Anyway let’s not get distracted or to stall any longer, so since Beverly Hills Cop II what have you been up to Detective Foley??

 

The film opens up with Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy returning once more) doing his job in Detroit and is about to perform a raid on an illegal chop shop. However, unbeknownst to Foley, the chop shop has already been targeted by a ruthless gang who have murdered everyone inside. Foley and his fellow officers come under fire; and Foley’s boss Inspector Todd (Gill Hill reprising his role) joins the fire fight but is shot and killed by a man Foley sees commit the crime. The murderer then turns his head so he and Foley end up looking into each other’s eyes for a moment…the killer escapes after a fairly generic car chase…

 

After Todd’s funeral Foley is told that evidence was found at the scene which points towards a theme park named Wonderworld in California. Cue the next scene where Axel is pulling up outside the Beverly Hills Police Department looking for his old friend Billy Rosewood. Billy has been promoted and wields a position of power within the department and points Axel in the direction of Wonderworld.

 

Almost as soon as Axel arrives in the park he is shot at, and not long afterwards he comes face to face with Ellis DeWald (Timothy Carhart), the man he recognises as Inspector Todd’s killer. Initially DeWald pretends he has no idea who Foley is but later on whilst at a formal dinner actually mutters in Foley’s ear “What’s the matter Foley? You mad at me for shooting your boyfriend?” How old is this guy?? Isn’t that the kind of thing you would say to a five year old?? Well, well maybe not the killing bit, but calling a man’s male friend his boyfriend is just so childish and frankly pathetic. Where is the tough talking dialogue?? So not only do we know who the killer is, but Foley also knows, and has very little trouble convincing Billy that DeWald is a bad guy. So cue the gun fights and bringing down the mastermind behind the murder of Todd and a counterfeit money ring whilst uncovering indisputable proof that DeWald is not the squeaky clean nice guy everyone thinks he is.

 

So we have a bad guy that everyone thinks is a nice guy, does charity work who is actually a criminal, how many times have we seen that?? Maybe in 1984 this was a new concept but now it has been done so many times that it makes this such a generic, by-the-numbers concept that it begs the question of: what is the point of making it??

 

There are sadly so many franchises that have made it to a trilogy only to run out of steam with their third entry. The list is long and includes Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines, Shrek the Third, Jurassic Park 3 and so on, and now Beverly Hills Cop III also falls into that category. The second film had all the best elements of the first, the cast were familiar, the onscreen chemistry was present, and the action came thick and fast. Regrettably Beverly Hills Cop III lacks the spark of the previous two films, with Axel coming face to face with the man he knows killed his boss very quickly, instead of suspecting someone and solving the crime during the film. The plot was not exactly complicated but at least Axel had to figure out who was responsible for killing Mikey in the first film and the attempted murder Bogomil in the second, here he looks into the eyes of the man who murders Todd, and almost as soon as he arrives in Wonderworld he is fired at and introduced to the man who killed his boss.

 

Judge Reinhold returns as Rosewood once more, and is a welcome face. Unfortunately without Taggart there is no straight man for Axel to bounce off and the film suffers immensely for it. Murphy doesn’t portray Axel in quite the same way as he had in the last two films, he has lost the edge that he had before, and his fast paced monologues present in the previous films are gone here. The cast are just going through the motions and the setting doesn’t really work, a theme park just doesn’t seem to be a good setting for a criminal to set up shop, and just doesn’t quite gel.

 

Once again we have a franchise falling victim to Tired Trinity Syndrome, there is nothing new, nothing creative and whilst Reinhold seems to be trying to develop Rosewood who has been promoted since the last film, he is the only one who seems to be putting in any effort. I have to say that Eddie Murphy is just going through the motions, Axel Foley may have matured since the last film, but that is not what we are here to see. The main reason we all liked him was because he was fast talking, street-wise, and somewhat reckless. By taking away all of those elements then you have basically reduced him to a cardboard cut out that just goes through the motions.

 

I will never understand why criminals are so prone to making themselves obviously appear to be criminals. Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop had no reason to throw Axel through a window, but had his men do that which focussed Axel’s attention on him, the villains in Beverly Hills Cop II seemed to be a little smarter and Axel and Co had to track down clues to find them. Here Axel sees the man who murders Todd, it is not a henchman, it is the guy in charge of the operation. The moment that Axel is in Wonderworld men start firing at him, so of course he is going to know that something is up. The only clue that Axel had to send him to California was a towel for the Wonderworld Hotel so if he had gone there, found nothing unusual could he not have just assumed the villains maybe just stayed at the hotel and stole some towels?? Axel may well have then left Wonderworld alone. On that point would it have been that hard to simply put a plain towel in your gun briefcase or better yet, no towel, was it that important?? What was thinking?? After murdering everyone were the bad guys planning on stopping off on the way home for a quick shower??

 

This film is such a poor addition to the series…why make it??

 

Eddie Murphy is obviously not interested in playing the character anything like he used to be anymore, and tries to be the straight cop, but it just doesn’t work, if he wanted to be a straight cop then write something new and be a straight cop. But don’t try to wring the fans of the previous two films for more money by telling us we are going to see another Beverly Hills Cop film that no longer features the Axel Foley we know and like.

 

After two excellent films it is a real shame that the last entry is such a disappointment that lacks the energy, humour, spark and just about everything that made Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II so enjoyable and so much fun to watch.

 

Apparently there is a forth film in the works but it has been stuck in development hell for years. As for Beverly Hills Cop III it, like so many other films, have fallen into the third film trap it would be best if the Beverly Hills Cop franchise ended here. It is a sad end to what could have been an excellent example of 80s action/comedy if only the first two had been made, and whilst the film it is below average and generally okay it should only be watched by the most dedicated Eddie Murphy fans.

 

There are bits of the film that I like but generally it is just not a patch on the original films and should not have been made…if actors and film makers cannot be bothered to try then they shouldn’t be allowed to make more movies…it is as simple as that.

 

So it pains me to do it because I am a big fan of the first two films, Beverly Hills Cop III gets a Thumbs Down, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m pushing it down into a cesspool of shit, but I would say that if it was treading water I would be using my thumb to hold its head under the surface until the last bubble of air escapes its lungs…

 

If there is a fourth film then hopefully it will be great, but I doubt it, so do everyone a favour Hollywood and Mr Murphy either give us the Axel Foley we loved in the 1980s or have him committing seppuku on screen as penance for putting us through Beverly Hills Cop III

 

 

4/10 - Regrettably Beverly Hills Cop 3 is a below average film. It falls far short of the bar set by the previous two…perhaps Earth should adopt the method used by my people and if a film is made that is just trying to cash in on the success of the originals then those responsible are vaporised. It might seem extreme but think about how brilliant it would be if every film had effort put into it because people were afraid of what would happen to them if they tried to phone-in a performance.

 

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