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“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” Leans into Nostalgia

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | July 3rd, 2024

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (Mark Molloy, 2024) 3 out of 5 stars

The first Beverly Hills Cop movie came out in 1984, and was the top grosser of the year. Starring Eddie Murphy as maverick cop Axel Foley, the film cemented the actor as one of the decade’s megastars. It was followed in 1987 by Beverly Hills Cop II (which also made good money) and then in 1994 by Beverly Hills Cop III (which did less well). In addition, there was an attempt at a television series in 2013 that went nowhere (meant to feature Foley’s son). We’ve therefore been living with Axel Foley, for better or for worse, for 40 years. For fans of the character, there is good news in the form of a fourth chapter: Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.

This is no masterpiece. In fact, the script—from a trio of writers—is often quite dumb. Making his feature debut, director Mark Molloy keeps the action moving merrily along, but he also can’t enliven predictable dialogue that includes the time-honored chestnut of a cartoonish villain telling the hero, “We’re not that different, you and I.” If one can stomach a cliché-ridden plot and stock characters brought back for the sheer nostalgia of it all, then a good time can be had.

l-r: Eddie Murphy and Taylour Paige in BEVERLY HILLS COP: AXEL F ©2024 Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

Driving directly into memory lane with a vengeance, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F even opens with Glenn Frey’s musical anthem from the 1984 original, “The Heat Is On.” We’re back in Foley’s home base of Detroit, and Murphy will soon once more be in the hot seat. First, however, he has to create the kind of havoc that only he can, giving him cause to head West to Beverly Hills. Although there’s also another reason: his daughter, Jane (Taylour Paige, Zola).

She’s a high-powered attorney in Los Angeles, who takes on a pro bono case of a would-be gang-banger accused of killing an undercover police officer, whom she thinks was crooked. Her efforts provoke the ire of mysterious forces, and soon she is the target of a vicious attack. It’s too bad the bad guys never saw the first three movies, or they’d know not to mess with anyone connected to our protagonist.

l-r: John Ashton, Eddie Murphy, and Judge Reinhold in BEVERLY HILLS COP: AXEL F ©2024 Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

Complicating matters, however, is the fact that Jane and Axel are estranged, she feeling that he abandoned her and he that she pushed him away. Through clumsy efforts at a push-and-pull kind of reconciliation, they will reluctantly collaborate to solve the riddle of who is behind the central crime. Along the way, they’ll draw in faces both familiar and new.

The former include our friends Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton), as well as Jeffrey Feldman (Paul Reiser) and Serge (Bronson Pinchot). The latter bring us Kevin Bacon (Leave the World Behind) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Project Power). It’s a fine ensemble.

l-r: Joseph Gordon Levitt and Eddie Murphy in BEVERLY HILLS COP: AXEL F ©2024 Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

But don’t expect any great surprises, either of performance or of plot. We immediately know who the true rogue is, and we recognize the machinations of the narrative from previous installments. Contrary to what Frey sings, there isn’t much heat. Still, it’s a relaxing-enough time. So sit back, enjoy the company, and remember that with low expectations come very little disappointment.


Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator, as well as Film Festival Today's Editor. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, Chris is, in addition, lead film critic at Hammer to Nail and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice.

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