Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Review

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is ton of fun, giving Eddie Murphy a strong outing that will please old fans and win new ones.

PLOT: After an attempt on his daughter’s life and the disappearance of his friend Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) returns to Beverly Hills to do battle with a group of corrupt cops.

REVIEW: Right off the bat, it’s clear that Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F director Mark Molloy nailed the assignment. In the movie’s first scene, we see Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley driving around his beloved Detroit, cracking a smile as Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On” fills the soundtrack. It’s not subtle, but it delivers the message loud and clear that for the first time since the second film in 1987, we can legitimately say there’s a new Beverly Hills Cop movie out, and it kicks butt. Wholeheartedly embracing an R-rating, with frequent F-bombs and surprisingly hardcore action beats, Molloy’s made a movie that will likely prove to be a summer smash for Netflix and will bring Murphy’s hardcore fans a lot of joy.

In some ways, Axel F is reminiscent of Top Gun: Maverick in that our titular character, thirty years later, is just as reckless and wild as he was in his youth, but not without a price. Axel Foley is still busting criminals left and right in Detroit. But, his career has stalled, and just like Maverick had Iceman watching his back in the last Top Gun, Axel depends on his old partner, Paul Reiser’s Jeffrey Friedman, who’s now the Chief of Police, to save his career. His personal life is also a shambles, with him divorced and estranged from his daughter, Taylour Paige’s Jane, who works as a defence attorney in Beverly Hills. 

One of the nicest things about the fourth film is that it continues the vibe set in the second movie, where Axel, Billy (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) have become lifelong best friends following the first movie. The motivating factor in this sequel is that with Jane’s help, Billy has been investigating dirty cops, only for him to vanish and for Jane to be almost killed. Once Axel’s on the case, Taggart, who’s become the Chief of Police in Beverly Hills, gets forced into the old Ronny Cox role, in that he has to run interference with the politicians, as Axel and a younger cop who happens to be Jane’s ex-flame, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bobby Abbott, do battle on Rodeo Drive. 

While not especially original, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is extremely satisfying because it gives us a ton of time with the characters we already love (even Bronson Pinchot’s Serge shows up) while embracing an old-school aesthetic. Mark Molloy eschews CGI in his action scenes, keeping all the carnage practical and in-camera. At the same time, Lorne Balfe’s soundtrack is done in the vein of Harold Faltermeyer, making liberal use of his old themes and plenty of needle drops from the first two movies (and not the dumb full orchestra version of Axel F they used in the third one).

Axel F

It’s also refreshingly R-rated, with Axel dropping F-bomb after F-bomb and going into some fast-talking routines as he tears up Beverly Hills. Sadly, the requisite trip to the strip club from the first two movies is skipped here (a sign of the times?), but otherwise, this is a pretty legit Beverly Hills Cop movie. 

While Murphy’s show, Judge Reinhold and John Ashton get meaty roles, with Rosewood once again the conscientious cop with a moral code, something which bonds him to Axel’s daughter, who considers him a mentor and adopted uncle. John Ashton’s Taggart is grumpy and more willing to toe the line but again gets his chance to shine as an ultimately heroic figure, while Pinchot’s Serge delivers some refreshingly old-school, un p.c laughs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Taylour Page also prove to be solid new additions, with them both getting the vibe of the franchise. Gordon-Levitt is like Billy in that for all people underestimate him, he proves to be an exceedingly capable cop. At the same time, Paige has excellent chemistry with both Murphy and her love interest, Levitt. 

My only issue with Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is that the villains should have been a little more potent. While it’s very cool that they cast the legendary Kevin Bacon to play the movie’s big red herring, he’s lacking the screentime to really establish him as a huge threat, with most of the baddies here just being an assortment of faceless mercenaries and sicarios. Bacon has fun, especially towards the end, but he never comes off as quite as menacing as he could have. However, that criticism could be levied against any of the villains of the other films, who’ve always been secondary to Axel’s shenanigans.

While Axel F is good enough that a theatrical release might have made a mint, similar to producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s last couple of legacy sequels, Top Gun Maverick and Bad Boys Ride or Die, plenty, and I mean PLENTY of people will watch this one it hits streaming. If you like the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies, you’ll have a blast, with it a loving homage to OG directors Martin Brest and Tony Scott. 

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.