Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F – Is Eddie Murphy Still Funny, or Was Everything Better 40 Years Ago?

MOVIE REVIEW – Eddie Murphy’s comedic talent is still sharp, but this film feels like it’s from another era. Murphy reminds us why his films were so beloved in their heyday. However, Axel Foley’s character now seems a bit worn out, like an old leather jacket we keep around purely for nostalgia.


Eddie Murphy was just 23 when Beverly Hills Cop hit theaters in 1984, launching him to superstardom. His raw talent was already evident on Saturday Night Live, which he joined at 19. His first major film role in Walter Hill’s 1982 flick 48 Hrs. further cemented his status, followed by Trading Places in 1983. Although his 1984 film Best Defense is less known, Beverly Hills Cop, directed by Martin Brest, solidified Murphy’s place in cinema. The film was a massive hit, turning Detroit’s sassy cop Axel Foley into an iconic character. Murphy’s charm, confidence, and elegance took the character to new heights, creating movie magic. Like Murphy, Axel Foley was young, cool, and in demand, making sequels inevitable.



Old characters, new adventures, mixed results


Axel returned to Beverly Hills in the 1987 sequel Beverly Hills Cop II, directed by Tony Scott. This sequel was more violent and not as funny or good as the first, but it was still charming to see Foley back in the 90210 area. However, the third installment in 1994, directed by John Landis, was a low point for the franchise; a joyless sequel where Murphy seemed genuinely tired, searching for the nearest exit.

Over the years, there have been several attempts to bring Axel Foley and Murphy back into action. There was even a CBS pilot about Axel’s son, featuring a cameo by Murphy. Though the Beverly Hills Cop TV show never materialized, Axel Foley rides again in the new Netflix film Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley. The good news: it’s not as bad as Beverly Hills Cop III. The bad news: it’s still not that great.



Axel in action again, now with more action and less laughter


In 2019, Eddie Murphy teamed up with Netflix for Dolemite Is My Name, which was a huge success. Despite several less successful films in his later career, Dolemite reminded us that Murphy can still deliver when given the right material. Unfortunately, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is not that material. While Murphy’s performance is solid, there are only occasional flashes of brilliance, particularly when he fully embraces his return as Axel Foley. Most of the time, though, it feels like Murphy is struggling to lift a weak film. The script, by Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten, oddly lacks humor. Instead, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is more action than comedy, with several big action sequences, including an opening chase with a snowplow and a mid-movie helicopter scene. Director Mark Molloy handles these action beats well, but none of them are particularly memorable. They merely keep the plot moving.

After an opening that shows Axel still on the job and a local celebrity in Detroit (apparently everyone knows him), we dive into the story. Axel’s estranged daughter, Jane (Taylour Paige), is a criminal defense attorney in Beverly Hills, and her latest case has put her in danger. Axel’s old buddy, Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), now a private investigator, tips her off about a cop murder case. After some investigation, Jane concludes that dirty cops are framing her client, putting her life at risk. Additionally, Billy goes missing. This prompts Axel to return to Beverly Hills.



Nostalgia bomb or nostalgia trash?


Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley heavily relies on nostalgia, like a classic hit played on repeat, but its magic has faded. Almost every moment is designed to remind us of previous films. When Axel arrives in Beverly Hills, he’s still amazed by the wealthy, surreal area – but hasn’t he been here multiple times already? Why is any of this still surprising? We get a montage of Beverly Hills sights because that’s what we expect from a Beverly Hills Cop movie.

Old faces return. Besides Judge Reinhold as Billy, Paul Reiser reprises his role as Jeffrey Friedman, and John Ashton is back as Taggart. Taggart was retired in Beverly Hills Cop III, but now he’s the police chief and not too fond of Axel’s antics. Bronson Pinchot also returns as Serge, and while Pinchot gives it his all, his character’s return feels especially desperate – there’s no reason for him to be back other than his presence in previous movies. It’s formulaic and tiresome.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a welcome addition as Bobby Abbott, a Beverly Hills cop who teams up with Axel. Murphy and Gordon-Levitt have surprisingly good comedic chemistry, and the big helicopter chase where Bobby has to fly is a highlight, thanks to their interaction amidst the chaos. Paige, excellent in A24’s Zola, plays Axel’s daughter Jane well but is underused. There are moments where Jane shows her knack for talking her way out of situations, just like her father, and the film would have benefited from more of that. In truth, while Gordon-Levitt is a bright spot, a stronger movie would cut his character entirely, focusing instead on Axel teaming up solely with his daughter.



Ultimately, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is … just okay?


I guess? I wish I could tell you this was either a laugh-out-loud comedy or a complete disaster because that would make my job easier. Instead, it’s frustratingly mediocre. It’s neither really good nor really bad; it just exists, plodding along, trying to get by on Murphy’s considerable charm. Most of the time, this looks like a typical Netflix movie, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Occasionally, an original Netflix film by a master filmmaker will hit the mark (think The Irishman). But that’s the exception, not the rule. Most Netflix movies are visually bland and flat; they look like what they are: TV movies. Beverly Hills Cop II might not be considered a masterpiece, but it at least looked good. No one will say the same about Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley.

Your mileage may vary. If you’re just looking to see Murphy slip back into a familiar role and have a little fun, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley might do the trick. Even though the film is lackluster, it’s still fun to watch Eddie Murphy do his thing, and there are moments where he genuinely seems to be enjoying himself, and that can be contagious. So maybe that’s enough to satisfy you. Or, when you sit down and fire up Netflix to watch this movie, you might make a wiser choice and watch Dolemite Is My Name instead. It’ll be a much better use of your time, I promise.

-Gergely Herpai “BadSector”-


Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Direction - 6.2
Actors - 7.4
Story - 4.4
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 6.3
Ambience - 6.2



Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is a nostalgic trip that unfortunately fails to recapture the success of its predecessors. Eddie Murphy still shines, but the film’s plot and humor fall short of expectations. For those seeking simple entertainment, it might suffice, but true fans are better off re-watching the earlier films. Axel Foley’s return is like listening to an old pop hit in a mediocre remix: it feels good, but it’s just not the same.

User Rating: Be the first one !

Spread the love
Avatar photo
BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

No comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.