Flashback Review: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

"A heh-heh-heh-heh"

beverly hills cop poster

Beverly Hills Cop nearly checks all the boxes of your standard comedy-action cop film. Rouge hot-shot police officer with blatant disregard for proper procedures and policies? Check. Bitter hard-ass police captain who is always chewing out said hot-shot officer? Check. Wealthy business man using his business as a front for some sort of illegal activity? Check. Action-packed shootout and car-chase scenes where the main characters never get seriously hurt? Check. Unusual pairing of rogue cop with buttoned-down or washed-up partner resulting in enjoyable chemistry and a few hilarious moments? Uh…..no.

A good question to ask at this point may be; so why do we care about a film that so nearly fits into all the clichés we associate with police action-comedy films? If this film seems to be so normal, uninspiring, and unimaginative that is fits perfectly into the familiar recipe for this genre, why is it worth watching? The answer is Eddie Murphy. Sure, he’s the stereotypical hot-shot cop, but he’s THE stereotypical hot-shot cop. His performance just dominates the movie and any attempt to pair him with a lesser partner would have failed miserably. He is razor smart, hilarious, and manages to push all the right buttons at the right time. Therefore, although the movie may seem very familiar and not all that outside-of-the-box, Murphy manages to make it great.

Another interesting aspect of this film that comes as a bit of a surprise is how vulgar some of the comedy is. Not only does Murphy spin off quite a few F-words, but some of the things he says would not be out-of-place in a modern day Judd Apetow comedy. With the rest of the movie seemingly so by-the-book, this is something that stands out. As such, this is a movie that while it seems pretty tame and predictable, ends up being enjoyable because it has its moments. It’s one of those cases where the movie as a whole is not as good as the parts making it. Therefore, although it is tempting to do, don’t judge this book by its cover, and give Eddie Murphy a chance. There’s a reason he made it big. 

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Story: When a good friend of detective Axel Foley is murdered, Foley vows to find out who is responsible. He travels to Beverly Hills, where his friend was last employed to search for clues and get his revenge. But although his motives are genuine, Foley’s snooping does not sit well with the local police force. Will he be able to find the proof he needs to avenge his friend’s death, or will the local police force stop him before he is able to?….(Okay 18/25)

Acting: Eddie Murphy makes this movie good. The more you watch the movie, the more you really enjoy his character. His constant disregard for rules and the witty ways that he gets himself out of trouble never get boring to watch. Similarly, his goofy laugh and quizzical nature gives him just enough aloofness that he doesn’t seem to be superhuman. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton do their best straight-and-narrow cop impressions as the two detectives assigned to watch over Axel when he is in Beverly Hills. If anything, their buttoned-down performance gives Eddie Murphy something to play off of. Steven Berkoff plays the standard bad guy role, and is instantly unlikeable from the first moment you see him onscreen – a good quality for a bad guy to have. The rest of the cast settles into their roles but no one really stands out much. Good (23/25)

Direction: Martin Brest steers the film in a competent manner. The action scenes are well followed, and he never misses an opportunity to capture Eddie Murphy’s charm. A majority of the film is at eye-level, no big establishing shots or complicated camera moves. This keeps the look of the film simple, but also makes it feel very dated. Similarly, there’s not much style – besides the opening scene of the movie, the film just feels generic and relies on Eddie Murphy to capture the audience’s attention. Okay (18/25)

Visuals/X-Factor: The film definitely feels old. While the action scenes are done well, they feel simplistic and generic. The music is also horribly dated even if it is instantly recognizable and somewhat catchy. In other words, much like the storyline, this film’s visual and cinematic point-of-view is hardly ground breaking. What is ground-breaking and still fresh today is the way that Eddie Murphy struts his stuff in an entertaining manner. That will never get old. Okay (19/25)

Rating: (78/100) = C+ (Average)

 

  • What’s Good: Eddie Murphy shows that at one time he did deserve his A-list status, and the film has plenty of great scenes and moments that are memorable and enjoyable. 
  • What’s Bad: A ho-hum plot, direction, and cast. Stereotypical story. 

Summary: Could have been boring, wasn’t. 

 beverly hills eddie murphy