The Spool / Movies
In Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, The Heat Is Definitely Off
Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F dons the badge only to deliver a wheezy depressing collection of franchise tropes.
NetworkNetflix
SimilarAmélie (2001), Armageddon (1998), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Blue Velvet (1986), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Cape Fear (1991), Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995) Freedom Writers (2007), Gone Baby Gone (2007), I ♥ Huckabees (2004), Insomnia (2002), Italian for Beginners (2000), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Klute (1971), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) Men in Black (1997), Men in Black II (2002), Muriel's Wedding (1994), Natural Born Killers (1994), Oldboy (2003), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), Pretty Woman (1990), Saw (2004), Se7en (1995), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), Stolen (2024), Swimming Pool (2003), The Long Goodbye (1973), The Party (1980) The Party 2 (1982) True Romance (1993),
MPAA RatingR
2.5
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Early on in the proceedings of the long-gestating Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, an actual Beverly Hills cop, looks over files chronicling Axel Foley’s previous visits to the city of glitz and glamor. The officer remarks, “94–not your finest year,” a clear shot at the dismal Beverly Hills Cop 3. Ironically, as bad as it was, 3 feels like a near-masterpiece compared to Axel F. This installment is a wheezy, depressing collection of franchise tropes that have long exhausted their comedic value. Eddie Murphy delivers one of the more listless performances in a career that has been, to put it politely, uneven. It somehow pulls off the seemingly impossible task of making Bad Boys: Ride or Die seem vital and cutting-edge.

This time, our hero continues to cause chaos as a Detroit cop, chasing crooks through the streets in a snowplow in the opener. Almost immediately, he’s once again summoned to Beverly Hills when he learns that his estranged daughter Jane (Taylor Paige) is receiving death threats. As a defense lawyer, her current case, involving an accused cop killer and possible police corruption, has apparently upset some dangerous people. Axel teams up with Jane and her former flame, the honest cop Det. Bobby Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to investigate the threats. It isn’t exactly Chinatown in its complexity, though. The bad guy, corrupt top cop Capt. Grant (Kevin Bacon) essentially announces his villainy the minute he appears. Cue the alleged wackiness.

Beverly Hills Cop Axel F (Netflix) Kevin Bacon
Villain or not, Kevin Bacon has that jawline. (Netflix)

The original Beverly Hills Cop was not a particularly great film, an often-uneasy fusion of violent cop thriller and comedy. But it did effectively milk its basic fish-out-of-water premise with a just ascending to superstar status Murphy. At this point, however, that premise has long since been milked dry. Former outsider Axel is now such a fixture in these posh surroundings that I suspect there’s a sandwich named after him at Nate’N Al’s.

One might hope that after thirty years, this entry might deploy a reasonably fresh take to justify its existence. Alas, like too many legacy sequels of late, the Will Beal, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten screenplay invests more in providing viewers with callbacks than providing anything new.

Think I’m exaggerating? The aforementioned snowplow sequence obviously intends to invoke the opening of the 1984 original. To hammer home that point, though, the sequence treats viewers to needle drops of Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On” and Bob Seger’s “Shakedown,” the theme songs from the first two films. It also thaws out series veterans like Paul Reiser, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, and Bronson Pinchot. They get little more than brief bits of business to show they remain alive and kicking. Once again, the action climaxes with a big Scarface-style shootout at a ritzy mansion. There, the quips make way for bullets to the head. Considering the quality of the quips to that point, that seems like a fair trade. 

Beverly Hills Cop Axel F (Netflix) Eddie Murphy John Ashton Judge Reinhold
Eddie Murphy, John Ashton, Judge Reinhold can still cram into a car three-shot, just like old times. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix)

This is all pretty depressing, to be sure. Still, the saddest aspect of the film is the sight of Murphy plodding through a role he clearly has no interest in, save for a big payday. He revitalized his once-stagnant career a few short years ago with his brilliant turn in Dolemite Is My Name. Sadly, since then, the actor has gone on to inexplicably squander that goodwill with such dire projects as Coming 2 AmericaYou People, and Candy Cane Lane. And yet, even in those, he sometimes displayed a little energy. That’s something he can’t muster here, going through overly familiar paces. He barely acknowledges the thoroughly wasted Paige and Gordon-Levitt when they share the screen.

Amidst Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’s collection of cop movie cliches and stale jokes, only one moment rings true. In it, Axel walks up to the check-in desk at a posh hotel and begins another one of his patented elaborate spiels. Invoking a British accent, he attempts to con his way into a free room. After a few moments, he shifts back to his normal voice and opts to just pay for the room, admitting he’s just too tired to bother.

Trust me, anyone watching this film will identify with the feeling. In fact, they’re likely to wish that Murphy achieved that insight before production began. That could’ve saved everyone involved a lot of time, money, and effort.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F walks the beat once more on Netflix on July 3.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Trailer:

NetworkNetflix
SimilarAmélie (2001), Armageddon (1998), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Blue Velvet (1986), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Cape Fear (1991), Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995) Freedom Writers (2007), Gone Baby Gone (2007), I ♥ Huckabees (2004), Insomnia (2002), Italian for Beginners (2000), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Klute (1971), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) Men in Black (1997), Men in Black II (2002), Muriel's Wedding (1994), Natural Born Killers (1994), Oldboy (2003), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), Pretty Woman (1990), Saw (2004), Se7en (1995), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), Stolen (2024), Swimming Pool (2003), The Long Goodbye (1973), The Party (1980) The Party 2 (1982) True Romance (1993),
MPAA RatingR