Thursday, July 14, 2022

Beverly Hills Cop II

Throwback Thursday takes us back to 1987 and the return of Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) to the big screen. Although a box office hit, the sequel wasn't as successful as the original film with a bit of a convoluted tale of a gang of super-thieves (most notably Brigitte Nielsen, Dean Stockwell, and J├╝rgen Prochnow) bringing Axel back to town when his friend Bogomil (Ronny Cox) is shot in one of several separate opening scenes the script stumbles through before getting our star back to California. 

I quite often enjoy Tony Scott, who took over directing here, but the film (based on a story conceived in part by its star) is more of an Eddie Murphy film than a Tony Scott film. Scott does bring a slicker look to the sequel that is missing some of the rougher edges of the first Beverly Hills Cop. The film also goes for a bigger action storyline with standalone comedic bits dispersed across the film rather than what felt more organic the first time around.

Along with Cox, whose character spends most of the film in a hospital bed, both Judge Reinhold and John Ashton return to back-up Axel this time around. Trying to find humor outside of Murphy's character, which it doesn't need to do, Rosewood (Reinhold) is given a Rambo complex that provides some cheap laughs but doesn't really do much else for either the character or the mystery that needs to be solved. Axel also gets an upgrade from being just a good detective with sudden new abilities such as breaking complex codes even the entire Beverly Hills Police Department can't crack.

Beverly Hills Cop II isn't a bad film, but it has all the hallmarks of an underwhelming sequel as it marks the start of a steep decline in the franchise which will hit rock bottom with the third film. Where the previous film saw Murphy make a specific scene work by lending his humor to it, this time around some of the comedic bits feel more scripted. Although we do get what appears to be Murphy improvisation at times (like when he sneaks into the gun club), we are also given a random trip to the Playboy Mansion because it allows for some cheap dick jokes.

Everything feels bigger this time around (and not always in good ways). The actions scenes are much larger, but also feel a bit more cold and generic without the need for emotional investment on the side of the audience. The gray area Axel lives in also gets a bit darker as this time around he steals a house (an upgrade from making a scene to get a swanky hotel room), causes likely thousands of dollars of damage to the gun club for the hell of it (which is never addressed), and even blackmails a potential source for information. And the mean Beverly Hills police chief from the first film is replaced by an even meaner and more abusive version (Allen Garfield), who, of course is also completely incompetent. 

The villains this time and the alphabet crimes they commit are also of less interest feeling like ideas that could have been used in a completely separate action film. Only having the second crime be the shooting of his friend ties anything back to the franchise. In some ways I think the script would have been helped as a standalone film without tying it to Beverly Hills Cop. Also, bizarrely as if to remind us where he comes from, Axel Foley also always clad in a heavy Detroit Lions jacket despite the California climate or what various situations call for, making you wonder if there was some kind of marketing tie-in that required Murphy to never take it off.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Beverly Hills Cop II
  • IMDb: link

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