Beverly Hills Cop 3: The Heat Is (Barely) On In This Franchise Killer

Beverly Hills Cop 3 killed Eddie Murphy’s biggest franchise for about thirty years. But, is it really that bad?

Last Updated on March 5, 2024

INTRO: The heat is back on for a third time in this episode of REVISITED, but after huge success with the first two installments, can lightning strike a third time in the massively popular Beverly Hills Cop series? Of course it can. I mean, the formulas there, the main star of the franchise is back and the poster has a kick-ass rollercoaster on it, which is pretty edgy…If you’re a ten year old. So, naturally, nothing could go wrong.

Well, look, the franchise has legs, with part four in post production at the time of writing this episode, and Netflix looking at a summer release for the movie. It’s a popular modern trend in Tinseltown, where legacy characters, or franchises, are being resurrected for final outings, or a continuation of the mythology to keep modern audiences interested in a known and historically lucrative IP. Indy may have not been able to draw a crowd like he used to, despite the (hopefully) final movie in Harrison Ford’s role as the adventurer being a fun, bat-shit crazy, but often dull entry in the series.

However, other fan-favorites such as Ghostbusters live on, with the well received and commercially successful Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021, being followed up by the cool looking, no pun intended, Frozen Empire, that’s set to hit cinemas at the end of March. The point is, if done well, legacy characters and movie franchises can be fun to revisit on the big, or small screen. However, if Universal ever dares to reboot, re-imagine or tinker with the Back to the Future series in case something is newly deemed offensive in them, like James Bond recently, I’ll be livid, but not surprised. However, threequels can be somewhat hit and miss, with some movies looking to make a quick buck by rolling out the cast for a quick cash grab at the expense of a solid movie. However, which way did Beverly Hills Cop III ultimately go? Well, strap yourselves into the spider ride as we find out, here on REVISITED!

SET-UP: When Beverly Hills Cop III hit cinemas in May, 1994, Eddie Murphy wasn’t necessarily on a hot streak of success at the box-office. Harlem Nights in 1989 divided critics and audiences, to say the least, while sequel Another 48 Hours from the following year couldn’t match the wit or charm of the first movie. Boomerang in 1992 was fun, but by then Murphy’s somewhat smug onscreen characters were perhaps starting to grate on audiences. At least, the box-office receipts from the time would suggest so.

When approached about starring in a threequel to one of his most successful movies, he may have ultimately seen some redemption in the form of Axel Foley – a way to win audiences back. After all, both Beverly Hills Cops one and two are riotously entertaining in their own right. We all love a fish-out-of-water story, and Murphy’s arrogant, witty, and charming central character is a blast to see at the time and also to revisit years later. So, surely with a decent director onboard (check!), Murphy’s return (double check!), plus fan favourites back and a cool story (triple ch…), actually, I’m not sure I can confirm that one. Anyway, most of the ingredients were there for a rollicking rollercoaster, pun intended, for part three.

Beverly Hills Cop 3

However, when asked in 1989 about whether he would star in a third installment, Murphy poured scorn on if his return as Foley would be some kind of redemptive triumph, saying, “There’s no reason to do it. I don’t need the money and it’s not gonna break any new ground. How often can you have Axel Foley talk fast and get into a place he doesn’t belong? But these motherfuckers are developing scripts for it. They’re in pre-production. The only reason to do a Cop III is to beat the bank, and 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!'” Ouch. I guess he wasn’t that keen then, but I’m sure the reported $15 million dollar salary that Murphy was offered did indeed ‘beat the bank’.

Despite Murphy having reservations about kicking some ass and wise-cracking his way to that reported $15 million dollar pay cheque, the production did have its director in place. And he was, on paper at least, a solid choice – John Landis. Best known for hairy werewolf makeovers, Landis had already directed Murphy in 1993’s Trading Places and 1988’s Coming To America, but up until Beverly Hills Cop 3, he had mainly teamed up with Michael Jackson, again, for some nifty music videos. Also, as we’ll delve into a little later in this video, the relationship between Landis and Murphy wasn’t, by all accounts, too healthy.

So, with the man in the director’s chair chosen and the main star eventually onboard, the production could go ahead, but a multitude of script revisions and the availability of key actors had to be ironed out. Early script drafts would see Foley, Taggart and Rosewood travel to the good ol’ UK to rescue Captain Bogomil, who had been kidnapped and held hostage by terrorists during an International Police Convention. I guess this is a little too close to the second movie’s plot, which saw Bogomil gunned down by the Amazonian Bridget Nielsen. Plus, the pre-production stage slowed down to such a degree that both John Ashton and Ronny Cox had to drop out due to filming obligations elsewhere. Intriguingly, however, in an interview from 2012, Ronny Cox revealed another possible reason, saying, “They wanted me to be in Beverly Hills Cop III, but…I read the script”. It wasn’t looking good for the threequel, even at that early stage.

Fortunately for all involved, Judge Reinhold was back as gun-loving detective Billy Rosewood, plus another franchise favorite in the late great Gilbert R. Hill, as the tough talking Inspector Todd. However, that’s just about as notable as the cast gets, unless you count an appearance by John Travolta’s older brother, Joey, plus Eugene Collier and Jimmy Ortega. Thankfully the art world’s best espresso maker, Serge, is back but could he save the threequel from falling into the trend of part threes often being terrible? Well, the story is the key aspect of whether or not the movie would work and early drafts of the script saw Axel Foley dealing with his celebrity status and also, intriguingly, teaming up with either Sean Connery or John Cleese as Scotland Yard detectives. This, of course, never happened. 

Beverly Hills Cop III

REVIEW: During the time that Beverly Hills Cop 2 was released it was pretty much guaranteed that a new Eddie Murphy movie would equate to box-office gold, such was his own golden touch when it came to picking a good project. Which brings us nicely to what is, arguably, a serious misfire for all involved. It was considered a surprise that Murphy had agreed to fill the wise-cracking shoes of Axel Foley again, and even more surprising that he would do so under the direction of John Landis. During a press conference in New York to promote Coming to America, Murphy was asked if he would ever consider working with Landis again, to which he replied, “Vic Morrow has a better chance of working with Landis than I do”. This somewhat tasteless comment refers to a horrific accident during the shooting of the segment Landis was directing for the Twilight Zone movie, in which Morrow died. Landis was eventually acquitted of involuntary manslaughter, but this just shows how fractious their relationship was.

This also probably explains why the threequel is a largely soulless, expensive, sporadically entertaining mess that tarnished the name of what was once a hugely enjoyable franchise. The plot sees Foley investigating a car theft ring, but he comes face to face with the men who kill his boss, Inspector Todd, during a raid on a chop shop. This leads him to pursue the killers to a theme park where they’re running a counterfeit money ring, and we subsequently get treated to some fairly well staged but lifeless set pieces. The plot also takes a detour to Beverly Hills, naturally, so that Judge Reinhold’s Billy Rosewood can tag along, but even the gun-toting detective can’t save the movie from threequel obscurity.

Unfortunately then, cheap gimmicks replace any real characterization and what could have been a rollocking Die Hard in Wonder World, turns into a lazy, uninspired attempt to round out the franchise. Murphy shoots a whole load of bad guys, which is appreciated, he also swears more than Joe Pesci in Casino, well almost, and even dresses up as an elephant at one point, shoving a poor kid into a fountain, and calling him a “little mothafucka”. You see, Murphy hadn’t gone soft, no, far from it…We’re supposed to buy into the idea that the movie is the genuine article, a worthy part three, but unfortunately, it’s simply awful.

LEGACY / NOW: Beverly Hills Cop III was released on May 25, 1994, and grossed $42.6 million dollars in the US, and $76.5 million at the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $119.2 million. It opened alongside the equally irritating The Flintstones, which opened at number one at the box office with Beverly Hills Cop III languishing in third behind Mel Gibson’s Maverick

The film received negative reviews from critics, and was considered by them and Murphy himself as the weakest film in the trilogy, but also admitting in an interview from 1994 that the movie is, “different from the trilogy’s first installment because Axel is more mature and no longer the wisecracking rookie cop”. Landis, on the other hand, was more candid about his experience on this movie, saying that, “Cop 3 was a very strange experience. The script wasn’t any good, but I figured, “So what? I’ll make it funny with Eddie”. But then I discovered on the first day when I started giving Eddie some shtick, he said, “You know, John… Axel Foley is an adult now. He’s not a wiseass anymore”. The movie also has a very low approval rating of 11% based upon 56 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, if the stats from that website mean anything to you.

As always though, let us know your thoughts on Beverly Hills Cop III in the comments section and don’t despair because, as I’m sure you’re all aware, Murphy is back to redeem the franchise, hopefully, with the upcoming, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, due to be released by Netflix this summer. The main cast are all back so can the movie successfully put the mess of part three firmly in the past, and provide the perfect goodbye for such an iconic character? I can’t wait to find out! Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you awesome folk next time, here on REVISITED!

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