Beverly Hills Cop Axel F Review

There is no doubt that nostalgia is a great tool to use to get an audience excited about a film or television show. A callback to familiar faces and stories makes for easy watching, like catching up with old friends. However, it can also be a disaster without real direction or focus (Jurassic World: Dominion, I’m looking at you). Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is a foregone conclusion that some old faces will be back, but thankfully, it’s done relatively well. The legacy sequel does a good job of standing on its own, even if it’s nothing we haven’t all seen before.

The start immediately puts the audience back into Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) mode, watching him drive around Detroit in his old beat-up car to a soundtrack seemingly pulled straight from the original film. Axel ends up at a hockey game and chases bad guys, which spills out into the streets. We get a pretty nice car chase/action scene, including a snow plow and plenty of damaged police cars. It’s a nice big ‘welcome back’ hug to the audience and a great way to open up the film.

Axel’s big boss, the Chief of Police, is none other than his old partner Jeffrey Friedman (Paul Reiser), who, as it happens, is getting set to retire. This begins a familiar theme throughout the film of being too old for the job. Still, before you can say retirement home, Axel returns to Beverly Hills to help his estranged daughter Jane (Taylour Paige), who finds herself in danger after getting involved with a case involving crooked cops. This is a great segway to introduce the rest of the characters, both new and familiar.

New faces include Detective Bobby Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Jane’s ex-boyfriend, and Captain Cade Grant (Kevin Bacon). Throw in old pals Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton), and the stage is set.

Taggart is now the Chief, as Rosewood has left the force and become a private investigator. Jane finds herself caught up in crooked cops with ties to the drug cartel, and Rosewood has disappeared. This is when Axel steps in. With Rosewood gone for most of the film and Taggart used sparingly, it becomes a forced father/daughter reunion. Jane being a defense attorney adds a bit more tension to this awkward get-together, but it helps move the film along without dragging. Paige and Murphy have good chemistry, and things only stumble when it seems like the writers run out of things for her to do. 

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Of course, we can’t have a Beverly Hills Cop film without Serge (Bronson Pinchot), and while some interactions are painfully too on the nose to the point of being awkward, he has a few great exchanges with Axel. The whole scene at the house was silly filler that could have easily been cut or shortened.

Speaking of familiar faces, let’s give a big shout-out to whoever cast Christopher McDonald as a golfer during a golf course action scene. Too bad Shooter wasn’t playing against Happy Gilmore, but I guess that would be pushing things too far.

The Netflix film is edited well, and director Mark Molloy keeps a nice pace, but the soundtrack is a bit odd. The mixing of old favorites from other films and newer selections sometimes doesn’t work, and the volume of the tunes can make the dialogue overtop of the music come off as awkward. The action scenes serve the film well, but there are moments when people talk too much instead of taking care of business, good and bad guys alike. Thankfully, the actors play off each other well, making these moments more enjoyable. Murphy seems to be having a great time slipping back into a role that made him a superstar and a household name.

While it would have been nice to have seen this in the theater, the talent in front of and behind the camera made the two hours of Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F the kind of escapism and good time we look for in films like this. It’s not perfect or groundbreaking, but it’s an excellent reminder that films don’t have to be either of those and still allow the audience to simply enjoy the ride. 


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