Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (2024) Movie Review – Eddie Murphy elevates this formulaic sequel

Eddie Murphy elevates this formulaic sequel

The first Beverly Hills Cop movie was a box-office smash, winning over audiences with its smart fish-out-of-water storyline, energetic music score, and a standout performance from Eddie Murphy who knocked it out of the park as Axel Foley, the wisecracking Detroit detective who headed to Beverly Hills to solve his friend’s murder. 

Two sequels followed, neither of which were very good, so it was no surprise that a fourth movie in the franchise wasn’t forthcoming. But here we are, 30 years after Beverly Hills Cop 3 with Murphy back in the role as the titular foul-mouthed cop with no regard for authority.

Murphy fits comfortably into his old role, displaying with confidence the comic wit and laidback charm of one of his best-known characters. He has always been a talented performer but he hasn’t always been good at choosing the right movie roles. He made a string of bad movies in the 2000s – Pluto Nash, Norbit, Meet Dave – and in recent years, he hasn’t had much luck either, with only Dolemite Is My Name showing us what he can be capable of. 

To see him back in the role of Axel Foley is something of a delight – it’s a career return to form – but unfortunately, despite his star power, this new Netflix movie isn’t very good. Murphy elevates it with his dynamic performance but thanks to a weak script, which features a forgettable villain in Kevin Bacon’s corrupt cop and a shallow subplot about Foley’s relationship with his daughter Jane (Taylour Paige), this turns out to be little better than the franchise’s third entry.

One problem I had with the film was the abundance of 80s throwbacks, including mentions of the Sly Stallone movie First Blood and the video rental store Blockbusters. These moments are a little eye-rolling as they have been shoehorned into an already clunky screenplay. The soundtrack is also littered with music hits from that period, some of which have been lifted from the other Beverly Hills Cop movies. Admittedly, the songs are catchy enough but I get the feeling their only purpose is to act as nostalgia bait.

It’s possible director Mark Molloy wanted to make a film that captured the feel of the earlier Axel Foley pictures, hence the references to the 80s that have been chucked in. This might also explain the predictable storyline, which features the type of plot that was prevalent back in that decade, with police force corruption and a renegade cop figuratively sticking two fingers up at his superiors. But the movie would have been fresher and less predictable if it had been brought up to date instead of riffing on what we have seen and heard before. 

Eddie Murphy is the film’s saving grace as the streetwise detective who causes the usual type of destructive mayhem that his character is known for, most notably in the opening scenes when he causes all kinds of damage when erratically driving a snowplough through the streets of Detroit.

That scene is a lot of fun to watch as is a later sequence when Foley escapes captivity with another cop, Detective Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), by getting into a helicopter that neither of them is equipped to pilot. There are a handful of other action scenes too, but they are few and far between in a film that is more interested in telling a formulaic story that somehow manages to incorporate series favourite Serge (Bronson Pinchot) in a wasteful cameo.

This latest Beverly Hills Cop movie isn’t altogether terrible. There’s some enjoyment to be had watching Axel get the better of both the bad guys and his superiors and the revamped version of Harold Faltemeyer’s famous music score is always a pleasure to listen to, even if it’s used inappropriately at times. But anybody expecting something akin to the crowd-pleasing 1984 original will likely be disappointed.

With a better script, more laughs, and fewer callbacks to the earlier movies, this could have been a pretty decent picture. But as it is, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is only worth watching for a masterful return to form from Murphy who effortlessly slips into Foley’s skin and reminds us of how skilled a performer he can be. 


Read More: Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Ending Explained

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

  • Verdict - 6/10

Leave a comment