Director: Martin Brest
Joanna Berry says “what a different movie Beverly Hills Cop would have been had Sylvester Stallone, who was originally attached to the project, been the lead actor” (1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 707) She couldn’t have been more right! It certainly wouldn’t have been a comedy. However with funny man Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley Beverly Hills Cop has become one of the most well-known comedies to come out of the 1980s. And he is definitely at his fast-talking, wise cracking best … still in is prime after the misses of films like Pluto Nash (2002), Norbit (2007) and Meet Dave (2008).
Many 1980s films employed urban settings and Beverly Hills Cop is no different with street-wise and savvy characters. Brest keeps the two cities very different – Detroit is grimy, dirty and a bit behind the times with schlubby old cops while Beverly Hills is clean, shiny and massively high-tech with cops that could moonlight as models – with Foley as a fish-out-of-water linking the two. He never seems to quite fit in either town.
The ‘Axel F’ theme is iconic and well matched with the action. It is always associated with Axel Foley. Having said that however it has fallen foul of the mind numbingly annoying Crazy Frog that tortured us all a few years ago (I always want to add a ding ding to the end of the song!)
Beverly Hills Cop showcases not only Eddie Murphy’s comedic talent but also just his ability to act – switching from a concerned camp guy to the straight talking cop at the drop of a hat, not forgetting his angry tirade in the hotel lobby!
John Aston’s stereotypical doughnut eating old detective, John Taggart and Judge Reinhold’s fresh-faced, naive rookie, Billy Rosewood, move past those stereotypes through their interaction with Axel. It has some interesting minor characters as well like Serge who demonstrate brilliantly some of the “sharp digs at the all-style-no-substance LA lifestyle” (Joanna Berry, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 707) Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff) is typically a European baddie , extremely cold and calculating. Women seem to play a secondary role in this film, only there to fill in the background as secretaries or hotel staff, or in the case of Jenny (Lisa Eilbacher) to move the story on.
The 1980s spewed out a number of buddy cop films and television programmes but Beverly Hills Cop tends to stand out due to the fact that Axel works without a partner … while Taggart and Rosewood support him they ever become his partners (the only other cop similar to Axel at the time is Bruce Willis’ John McClane from the Die Hard series). I think that I actually prefer some of the other cop films from the 80s to Beverly Hills Cop but I can see why it is as popular as it is.