Movie Reviews

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Review – Eddie Murphy & Nostalgia Do All The Heavy Lifting In Netflix Sequel

Summary

  • Axel Foley returns in a nostalgic sequel, showcasing Eddie Murphy’s energetic and quick-witted performance.
  • The story lacks originality and depth, relying heavily on nostalgia and Murphy’s improvising.
  • Despite the weak plot, the film offers entertaining action scenes and a meaningful father-daughter subplot.



Axel Foley — the fast-talking, unserious jokester cop who always gets in trouble but gets the job done — is back in action. Like the Miami-based Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F sees Axel (Eddie Murphy) back to his 40-year-long shtick, bringing his street-smarts to the pristine, bougie, and newly paved roads of 90210.

Thirty years since his last cinematic outing, Axel is still up to his old tricks. The always jovial, hyper-focused, witty cop from Detroit is still rolling around busting crooks and gangs like he isn’t in his 60s. He has gotten himself into trouble again, but this doesn’t deter him from sticking to what he believes in. While it seems that nothing will take him out of Detroit, that changes when he hears from his old buddy Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Axel learns his daughter, Jane Saunders (Taylour Paige), is in danger after accusing a dead cop of being dirty.



Axel Foley Is Still One Of Eddie Murphy’s Best Roles

Beverly Hills Cops is an interesting franchise. It’s one of the prime examples of a film series with diminishing returns, yet it has a relatively loyal fanbase. Axel F suggests that it’s at least worth revisiting. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Bad Boys: Ride or Die proved there is still a hunger for these kinds of action films. No matter how bad the movies have been after 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy has been an undeniable draw. In Axel F, the actor is limited by age to a degree, but he is as energetic and quick-witted as ever.


Unfortunately, he carries a very mediocre script. The story is as generic as can be; the villains are stereotypical, and the jokes are lukewarm. But the action is entertaining and the music is on point. Murphy is a key ingredient — he elevates the whole thing, and his improvising does a lot of heavy lifting. Thankfully, the people surrounding him are either good straight men like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who can match his energy, or guys who offer fun reactions, like Kevin Bacon and Josh Ashton.

Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten’s script is primarily motivated by nostalgia, as is the action. The story has Foley reuniting with the city and people from his colorful past; meanwhile, he is reconciling with his estranged daughter, who is now based in Beverly Hills, and sees Rosewood and Taggart as uncles. As far as nostalgia trips go, this is a fun one. It’s sometimes meaningful and hollow.


Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’s Story Needs Work

Luckily, everything else gels

The action set pieces look expensive and are the heavy-duty glue that holds the movie together. It would’ve been ideal if the jokes and situations had more ambitious humor, but what we get is enough for a light chuckle. Lorne Balfe’s score is the biggest win next to Murphy, as the synthesizer-based music is blended beautifully with contemporary selections. The overall production aids in making this a fun watch.

Still, the glaring issues come from the story constantly reminding us that Axel is a menace (but a good one) while rehashing old dynamics and reiterating that chaos follows Foley whenever he is on a case. There is nothing new to invest in, except for the father-daughter relationship. Paige and the always charming Gordon-Levitt flank Murphy, and despite their natural charisma, they aren’t given nearly enough to work with. The father-daughter subplot is perhaps the heaviest plotline, and it’s at least executed well. Paige and Murphy have great chemistry and banter.


For as little as the actual case gives us and how obvious the plot turns out to be, we gain a stronger understanding of how Foley operates as a parent and how his natural inclinations manifest in Jane. Director Mark Molloy relies heavily on Murphy’s improvising, but without a sound structure for Murphy to work with, the island he is on becomes very apparent. Luckily, nostalgia, a decade’s worth of material, and Murphy are enough to pull together an entertaining movie that masks its many shortcomings.

Murphy is limited by age to a degree, but he is as energetic and quick-witted as ever.


I wish there was more time spent on Jane and Foley working together. Ideally, Rosewood would’ve had more screen time, as the trio working together seems far more entertaining than what we get with Gordon-Levitt’s Bobby. Bobby’s presence sees the film attempting to cater to a younger audience, as Rosewood could have easily slipped into that position (minus the romantic angle with Jane). I can go on about the shoulda, woulda, coulda of Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, but I’ll settle by saying that at least it’s entertaining — and that’s enough.

The return of Axel will satisfy fans of the franchise, and it might encourage those who are just tuning in to watch the original trilogy, if only to watch one of Murphy’s most significant roles from the 80s, a true golden era for the multi-hyphenate entertainer.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is streaming on Netflix Wednesday, July 3.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is the fourth film in the popular comedy franchise starring Eddie Murphy. Murphy returns as Axel Foley in the Netflix film alongside returning cast members Judge Reinhold and John Ashton and Bronson Pinchot as Serge. Kevin Bacon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt also star in the sequel as new characters.

Pros

  • Eddie Murphy is still funny and great in one of his most defining roles
  • The father-daughter relationship adds a new dimension to Axel Foley
Cons

  • The story is the film’s weakest part
  • The supporting characters don’t get all that much to do


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