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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    Review: Eddie Murphy returns to Beverly Hills, which is good enough for everyone

    his image released by Netflix shows Eddie Murphy, from left, Taylour Paige, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bronson Pinchot in "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F." (Netflix via AP)

    Judge Reinhold is in a truck barreling down the highway chased by angry cops when he turns to Eddie Murphy at the wheel and says something we're all feeling, “God, I missed you, Axel.”

    We all really did, but we get the sarcastic and sweet Axel Foley once again in Netflix's “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F,” exactly 30 years since “1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III.” Is the new movie any good? Who cares?

    The fourth outing brings back not just Murphy and Reinhold to the Axel Foley Cinematic Universe, but also long-time co-stars Paul Reiser, John Ashton and Bronson Pinchot. Kevin Bacon, Taylour Paige and Joseph Gordon-Levitt make their debuts.

    The plot is pretty simple: Murphy's Foley is living his best cop life in Detroit — destroying things spectacularly — when he's asked to urgently return to Beverly Hills to help his estranged daughter, played with real grit by Taylour Paige. He then gets caught up in a murder case that has dirty cops and lets him make fun of snooty Beverly Hills.

    Newcomers may be puzzled by the slow pace and '80s feel of Mark Molloy's directed sequel. It's not as funny as previous ones or ambitious in the way sequels for beloved franchises have gotten. But it has Murphy blowing stuff up and joking about it — all we need, really.

    “Goddamn, Foley. Here we go again,” says Ashton, playing the exasperated chief of police, and that sentiment runs through the fourth entry. All you need to make your Gen X friends happy is a montage of Murphy behind the wheel while “The Heat Is On” by Glenn Frey plays. (“Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters also returns).

    Speaking of music, the filmmakers seem to want to break some sort of record for Most Theme Song Plays in a Single Movie, as the instrumental tune ”Axel F″ by Harold Faltermeyer is cued up, by one rough count, approximately 5,000 times.

    There are also a lot of vehicles commandeered in “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F,” perhaps a nod to the advanced age of the core group. There's a snowplow, a helicopter, a golf cart and trucks, none of which are returned in mint condition.

    The screenwriters — Will Beall, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten — leave plenty of places for Murphy to improvise but also craft some surprisingly strong dialogue between Foley and his 32-year-old daughter, both nursing hurt feelings.

    “You didn’t fight. I’m your daughter. The only thing you’ve ever fought for is your job,” she tells him. “Look, we both messed this thing up. All right? Let's just call it even.” Come for the explosions, stay for the heart-to-hearts.

    Murphy uses Mary J. Blige's “Family Affair” and proves it. In one scene, Foley is arrested while trying to drive away in a comically small cop car. One of the traffic cops is played by Murphy’s daughter, Bria, one of his 10 kids. Another cop who later tases him is a son-in-law.

    A lot has changed in the three decades since Foley was breaking rules and skulls and there's the feeling of a requiem as these aged men go into battle again. “They don’t want swashbucklers out there anymore. They want social workers,” Reiser's detective says.

    There are jokes about Wesley Snipes, small yappy dogs and Spirit airlines, a scary shootout on Wilshire Boulevard, way too much synth played and an inside joke about the last sequel, a stinker: Gordon-Levitt goes through all of Foley's brushes with the California police and says “'94, not your finest hour.”

    “Axel F” is not exactly Murphy's finest hour, either. But Murphy just saying “Jesus!” is funny. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 30 years for our next Axel Foley fix. God, we've missed him.

    “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F," a Netflix release streaming now, is rated R for “language throughout, violence and brief drug use.” Running time: 117 minutes. Two stars out of four.

    This image released by Netflix shows Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F." (Netflix via AP)

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