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Beverly Hills Cop II Review

Beverly Hills Cop 2 - Eddie Murphy

RATING:
(3.5 STARS)

On the heels of Top Gun, the highest grossing movie of its year, it seems like an odd choice to step in and direct the sequel to an even higher grossing film from a few years ago, like Beverly Hills Cop. Even stranger, perhaps, is that this is a sequel to a super popular comedy, while Tony Scott’s two previous titles were a dramatic horror film and a straight(ish) action film.

There was no reason to expect his Beverly Hills Cop II would work as well as it does. The first film was sort of cobbled together around Eddie Murphy’s charisma and ability to improvise better than arguably any other living actor. Scott’s follow-up is clearly more of a massaged product. The plot is labyrinthine, and every character has their own meticulously considered arc. This brings the film down a bit from the impossible high that is Beverly Hills Cop, but it’s a more engaging action thriller than its predecessor, and Murphy still brings it.

The film introduces itself to us with the most “Tony Scott” scene of his entire filmography to date. Karla Fry (Brigitte Nielsen) leads a team of thieves in the robbery of a high-end jewelry store. It’s a thoughtful crime that she has clocked down to the second. And the envelope she deliberately leaves behind is marked with an “A,” announcing herself as a participant in the Beverly Hills area’s now infamous “Alphabet Crimes.”

Investigating are old friends Bogomil (Ronny Cox), Taggart (John Ashton), and Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), but they are losing favor with their angry and very political superior, Harold Lutz (Allen Garfield). After a slip-up by Rosewood, he and Taggart are placed on traffic duty. Bogomil, meanwhile, is suspended, but he’s close to putting the clues together. Unfortunately, on his way home from the precinct, he encounters Fry and is shot twice. With his friend clinging to life, Axel Foley (Murphy) abandons his undercover work in Detroit to help find out what happened to his friend and use Bogomil’s clues to solve the Alphabet Crimes.

While the path from Bogomil’s shooting to the film’s eventual climax is winding to say the least, it’s nice that Beverly Hills Cop II actually takes the action side of its action comedy classification somewhat seriously. You won’t mistake this film for something like Die Hard any time soon, but compared to the first film in this series, where one of the three biggest action sequences might be the banana in the tailpipe incident, it’s cool to see these cops we love actually engage in some copping.

And Scott’s style really lends itself to where this film wants to go. In Top Gun, if he didn’t quite succeed in making Miramar look like paradise, then it’s at least fair to say it looks like a kick-ass place to live. He does something a little different with Beverly Hills. It looks just as beautiful on the screen, but he revels in the sand and the dirt and the sweat. We’re not spending any time here in art galleries, fancy hotels, or high-end boutiques. (There is a mansion that factors prominently, but it’s under construction.) With a lot of the series’ best fish-out-of-water material behind it, this approach makes a lot of sense for a sequel.

Make no mistake, however, this is still a funny as fuck movie. As I mentioned earlier, every character has a beat to him this time. Some of them – like Taggart’s “domestic problems” – are half-baked and don’t amount to anything. But Rosewood’s emerging badassery is rather delightful, as is Paul Reiser’s mini-arc as the guy stuck covering for Foley back in Detroit. Gil Hill is back as Inspector Todd, and he has my favorite line in the entire movie. (“Don’t THINK, Axel! It makes my dick itch.”) But unsurprisingly, the star still is Murphy. He plays with his race for the first time in the franchise, asking Lutz “Is this a black thing?” with the biggest shit-eating grin I’ve ever seen when he’s dismissed unemotionally, and his interactions with Brigitte Nielson are all gold.

Beverly Hills Cop II is one of the all-time greatest sequels to a comedy, and it’s by far Tony Scott’s best film to date. He slides seamlessly into a franchise that could have easily imploded after an accidentally incredible first film (something that unfortunately occurs after John Landis takes his seat in the director’s chair), and he also makes something very much his own in the process. This film has a mixed reputation, but I’m all in. It’s a tremendously fun two hours.

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