‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ Proves A Movie Doesn’t Need to Be Fantastic – Only Entertaining

While not an awards contender by any means, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F shows how movies need to be more entertaining than anything else.

Praise the gods of laughter because Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, starring Eddie Murphy as the irrepressible Axel Foley, has arrived on Netflix. Murphy didn’t come alone, though, as previous stalwarts from the series, such as Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, and Paul Reiser, return as well. Expectedly, Axel F isn’t about to be a contender for film of the year, and it has already received a lot of “but why, though?” reactions from critics, but there’s a different perspective to consider here. This film serves as an example of how franchises don’t need to reinvent themselves with every entry. Instead, they simply need to respect the past and entertain the fans. That’s it. 

Respecting the legacy of Axel Foley

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F pays tribute to the three movies that came before it through its clever callbacks to Axel Foley’s past missions, the ’80s soundtrack that evokes unmistakable memories of perms and spandex, and the people he met along the way – including the beloved and eccentric Serge (Bronson Pinchot). It also doesn’t change the formula too much, choosing to keep Axel the same personality as always and continuing to present him as a wisecracking cop who isn’t afraid to break the rules to bring about justice. Nor did the film have to be a radical repackaging of the franchise either. After all, fans tune into an Eddie Murphy movie expecting the traditional Eddie Murphy humor and fodder. If Axel was suddenly a mopey, by-the-book police detective in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, people would feel cheated.

What the new film does well, though, is to add another incremental, small building block to the character’s overall narrative. Thirty years have passed since Beverly Hills Cop III, so a lot has happened since then in canon, but director Mark Molloy doesn’t focus on covering all the finer details. Instead, the core of this film is the tumultuous relationship between Axel and his daughter, Jane Saunders (Taylour Paige) and questioning if it can be repaired. Simultaneously, it explores how the Axel everyone knows and loves could also be a madcap father, who doesn’t always do the correct thing – even if his heart is in the right place. 

Why getting the story right mattered here

If Star Wars has taught us anything, it’s that fans want new stories but not really. There are certain cues and trusted tropes that need to be followed and adhered to by franchises; otherwise, the audience complains about the unfamiliarity of the story or it diverging too far from the expected. Beverly Hills Cop has never been Aaron Sorkin to begin with. It’s a simple action-comedy affair about a funny cop who bends the rules and isn’t afraid to cause havoc for the greater good. Yet, the simplicity also develops white-knuckled blisters for filmmakers because of the slippery slope it sits on, especially since critics and viewers accused the sequels of being too repetitive.

Speaking to Blavity TV, Eddie Murphy admitted that Beverly Hills Cop III wasn’t the best entry in the series and it put him off doing another film unless his specific conditions were met. “After we did the third one, I was like, ‘I’m not doing another one unless it’s right. Unless everything is on paper and it feels good,’” he said. “And I’m always open to doing a sequel to any movie if you can make it make sense to me. So I was open to it, but then the scripts just kept not being right, just not having everything that was supposed to be, and I didn’t want to make another mediocre one. So we just waited and waited. And it took 30 years to get it right.”

All things considered, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F isn’t about to win an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and one has to wonder if this is really the best story that could have been written in three decades. However, no one can argue that it strikes the tricky balance of preserving the successful formula from the past and providing a new reason for the audience to care about the characters. It isn’t a genre-defining tale that paves the way for the next generation of action comedies, but who can argue with the pure entertainment value here?

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F proves streaming movies can be good

Streaming services, especially Netflix, have received backlash from fans regarding their output over the past few months. Films like Rebel Moon and Atlas haven’t been well received, and many have started to seriously wonder if streaming platforms are simply the dumping ground for movies that traditional Hollywood studios refuse to release in theaters.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F redeems the faith of the audience, showcasing how there’s still hope for streaming services after all. Judging by the glistening cinematography, big stunts, and stars involved here, there’s no doubt this could have been released by Paramount Pictures – which was the studio responsible for the first three movies – but it also feels like the right kind of film to enjoy both in the cinema and the comfort of home. It’s also the latest blockbuster, in the same vein as Bad Boys: Ride or Die, that confirms what audiences have long known but Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand: Not every film needs to have 100% Rotten Tomatoes approval or be a groundbreaking production that changes the existence of mankind forever. All it needs to be is entertaining. Sometimes, we just want to sit back, gobble popcorn, and laugh as a cop steals a helicopter or makes fun of a hybrid squad car looking like something out of a Fisher-Price catalog.

About the author

Sergio Pereira

Sergio is an entertainment journalist who has written about movies, television, video games, and comic books for over a decade and a half. Outside of journalism, he is an award-winning copywriter, screenwriter, and novelist. He holds a degree in media studies and psychology.