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'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F' Review

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July 2, 2024
Hunter Friesen
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With Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, Eddie Murphy has joined Adam Sandler and Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix’s flock of golden geese. This marks his third film with the streamer in the last five years, the previous two being career-revitalizer Dolemite Is My Name and the worst film of last year, You People. Also mixed in are two Prime Video exclusives (Coming 2 America and Candy Cane Lane), with another one titled The Pickup currently in post-production. If you take a gander at Murphy’s IMDb page, you can see that he hasn’t been in a theatrically released film since 2016’s Mr. Church, which almost doesn’t count since it never got above a couple hundred theaters.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with starring in streaming movies, especially when someone like Netflix is seemingly the only one willing to greenlight Dolemite Is My Name after years of development hell and throw $150 million at a Beverly Hills Cop film after a thirty-year break. But for how smart they are as business decisions in this modern film industry, the creative output that comes from them is sorely lacking. “Good enough” feels like the mantra, something I mentioned in last week’s review of Netflix’s A Family Affair. It seems that Netflix and others have taken the lower barrier of entry for audiences as an excuse not to try as hard. How much would you really care about the experience of watching a film if it didn’t make you leave the couch? Certainly less than if you had to drive to the theater and fork over $10.

Everything and everyone just feels like they’re just going through the motions in Axel F. Axel once again has to leave Detroit, a place he destroys more than the criminals he chases, and go to Beverly Hills. This time he’s flying west to save his estranged daughter (Taylour Paige) after she defends a wrongfully convicted cop killer and is threatened by those actually responsible for the murder. Also returning are old costars Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, and Bronson Pinchot; each of them inadvertently being an advertisement for whatever products Murphy uses to defy aging (seriously, he looks phenomenal for 62). Joining the mix is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a fellow cop and Kevin Bacon as the chief of a new shady task force.

“The world has changed” and “in today’s climate” are phrases used a couple of times to try and push the theme of Axel being lost in time just as much as he is often lost in his surroundings. The attempts are heavy-handed, yet never effective as Axel hardly seems to change as a person throughout the film. His relationship with his daughter stems wholly from everything that happened offscreen between Beverly Hills Cop III and now. There’s also the theme of mortality in the line of duty, something that’s already been done in the other Jerry Bruckheimer-produced cop-based sequels, Bad Boys For Life and Bad Boys: Ride or Die.

Being that this is a Bruckheimer production, the action is bombastic. First-time director Mark Molloy is often hampered by bad special effects and drab photography. The extended opening chase scene involving a snow plow in Detroit is quite fun, but a later one with a helicopter is garish. Murphy is always having fun with the material, throwing out the same level of one-liners and energy he’s had for decades. There’s never a movie where his presence isn’t welcome, it’s just that most of them (this one included) don’t have any other reasons to care.

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