Four Things About ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ That Don't Suck

Axel Foley is back, and that’s not such a bad thing after all
Four Things About ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ That Don't Suck

The box-office success of Top Gun: Maverick and the recent Bad Boys sequels have proven that there’s undoubtedly a market for belated revivals of Jerry Bruckheimer-produced blockbusters. So it was simply only a matter of time before Eddie Murphy dusted off Axel Foley’s Detroit Lions jacket for another installment in the 40-year-old Beverly Hills Cop franchise.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F finds Foley once again journeying to Los Angeles, this time to help his lawyer daughter crack a dangerous case involving corrupt cops.

While this easily could have been a cynical nostalgia-baiting cash grab — known in the industry as “pulling a Fuller House” — there’s a lot to love about Axel F, starting with how…

Eddie Murphy Proves That He Is Still Charming as Hell

With the exception of the Rudy Ray Moore biopic Dolemite Is My Name, Murphy’s recent cinematic output has been far from stellar. His previous movie before Axel F was the Christmas fever dream Candy Cane Lane, and prior to that he starred in the forgettable Jonah Hill vehicle You People. Not to mention his other attempt to sequelize a past box office hit for a streaming service: Coming 2 America.

But while that movie felt wildly unnecessary and awkwardly forced, here Murphy steps into the role of Axel Foley with complete ease. Sure, the character basically just exists as a platform for Murphy to showcase his charms, and always has, but Murphy hasn’t been this fun to watch in years.

The Plot Reckons With Axel’s Unprofessionalism

Looking back at the original 1984 Beverly Hills Cop through a 2024 lens, it’s hard not to be slightly put off by the fact that, like so many ‘80s action movies, we’re asked to root for a cop who has little regard for the rules and administers justice however he sees fit. Today, audiences are more sensitive to the fact that cops acting outside of the law can have horrific consequences, and way worse than simply getting a banana jammed in your tailpipe.

But Axel F actually reckons with this problematic aspect of Foley’s character to some degree, by making the villain a corrupt cop, and a self-described fan of Axel’s, who specifically highlights the fact that they aren’t so different. “You’re no altar boy yourself,” he says to Axel at one point, while bemoaning the “current climate” that prevents him from circumventing procedure like in the good old days.

Later he flat-out tells Foley that they’re “more alike than you realize,” underscoring that he’s a symbolic representation of Axel’s past recklessness. Don’t worry, though: He’s still a rich asshole who gets what’s coming to him, as per Beverly Hills Cop tradition. 

Unlike Some Other Action Reboots, Its Father-Daughter Storyline Actually Succeeds

Giving aging action heroes an estranged child to reconnect with is a familiar narrative strategy at this point. John McClane traveled to Russia to help his CIA agent son battle Russian goons in A Good Day to Die Hard.

Indiana Jones befriended the son he never knew he had in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom and the Crystal Skull — before said son was killed off, Poochie-style, prior to the events of the fifth movie.

And now Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F similarly finds the protagonist teaming up with the daughter he hardly knows, played by Taylour Paige. But unlike those other movies, the father-daughter storyline in Axel F somehow actually works? Murphy and Paige play well off of each other, and inject enough emotion into the story to make it compelling and believable, while never allowing the family drama to get in the way of the action.

It’s Way Better Than ‘Beverly Hills Cop III’

It’s no secret that Beverly Hills Cop III wasn’t quite as good as the original movie, or even the second movie, or heck, even Daddy Day Care.

At the very least, Axel F means that the series doesn’t end with a crappy movie set in an off-brand Disneyland. The movie even includes a not-so-subtle meta dig at the regrettable sequel — when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is thumbing through Foley’s file, he notes that Axel has been to Beverly Hills before, in 1984, 1987 and 1994, remarking that the ‘94 outing was “not your finest hour.”

Axel F is also way better than the failed CBS pilot for a Beverly Hills Cop TV show that would have found Axel handing over the reins (and letterman jacket) of the franchise to his cop son, played by Brandon T. Jackson.

Of course, depending on how this movie does, they may make yet another sequel. If they do, hopefully it won’t be set in Wonder World and co-star George Lucas.

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