Beverly Hills Cop III Review

Beverly Hills Cop 3 - Eddie Murphy


Beverly Hills Cop III fucking sucks.

After seven years away from Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy put the Detroit Lions jacket back on in an extremely half-baked sequel to the great Beverly Hills Cop II, but it’s pretty clear early on that he didn’t really want to. Apparently a third Beverly Hills Cop film was being bandied about as early as 1989, and when asked about it then, Murphy told Rolling Stone, “Paramount ain’t gonna write me no check as big as I want to do something like that. In fact, if I do a Cop III, you can safely say, ‘Ooh, he must have got a lot of money!'”

Director John Landis took over from Tony Scott, and their approaches to each film’s plot couldn’t be different. Scott crafted a pretty engaging thriller in Beverly Hills Cop II that found dedicated moments for comedy throughout. In III, Landis makes every action scene comedic in a way that neuters them completely. Everything is jokey except for, ironically, Murphy, who seems to want to play Rambo or something. It’s a tonal mess and no fun at all.

Like the previous two films, this one begins with one of Axel Foley’s (Murphy) friends getting harmed. In this case, it’s Gil Hill’s Inspector Todd, and unlike Ronny Cox’s Bogomil in Cop II, Todd dies after getting shot by some ne’er-do-wells during a routine raid on a chop shop (where they dance to Motown classics for some reason).

Naturally, when a Detroit detective dies in action, one is forced to go to a popular Beverly Hills theme park to solve the case and catch the perpetrator. Wonder World is the Disney stand in where Foley tracks Todd’s killer. The man is named Ellis DeWald (Timothy Carhart), and he’s in charge of park security, though it’s clear to Foley that he’s up to something more nefarious in the bowels of the park, so he ends up recruiting an old friend, Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), and his new colleague, Flint (Hector Elizondo), to help him solve the case.

There aren’t many familiar faces left from the original two Beverly Hills Cop films. Gone are Bogomil and Taggart (John Ashton). The latter is written off and ostensibly replaced by Flint, while the former isn’t mentioned at all. We lose Todd in the film’s opening minutes – a tremendous waste for an unforgettable scene-stealer – but perhaps realizing they needed a little more continuity, Landis and screenwriter Steven E. de Souza bring back Bronson Pinchot, who played Serge in the first film. That was one of Beverly Hills Cop’s best scenes, but here – having made a seemingly successful transition from art dealer to arms dealer – he’s dreadfully unfunny, and his one primary scene goes on and on and on without a laugh to be found.

This film also gives Foley a romantic partner in the form of the park’s only good security guard, Janice (Theresa Randle). She’s the best thing about the film, but she isn’t nearly enough to make it remotely acceptable. The film fails in almost every other way imaginable. The score – so iconic previously thanks to the great Harold Faltermeyer – is dreadful. The park looks cheap, and we have to watch Murphy scale a broken ride to save some kids and don an elephant costume to get away from some bad guys. It’s very juvenile, and that’s not even getting into the climactic shoot out, which is utterly incomprehensible.

Beverly Hills Cop III actually lost money – not an easy feat considering how popular and profitable the first two films were – and perhaps unsurprisingly, there haven’t been any attempts since to bring us a “Beverly Hills Cop IV” or some other reboot of Axel Foley or the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. I can’t say I’m disappointed about this. While I truly adored the first two films, this one was torture, and though it’s hard to imagine anyone doing worse than III, it’s just as hard to imagine anyone recapturing the magic that was the first two.

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