Beverly Hills Cop III


When Eddie Murphy’s star stopped shining quite as bright as it once was due to a couple of high profile, box office duds, he did what any big Hollywood name does when they need a quick career boost – they break the safety glass and push the emergency franchise button.
To be fair, while the Beverly Hills Cop franchise was always profitable, it hardly was a series that audiences were itching to see return and if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, the second movie wasn’t all that great anyway. However, without super producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson attached (or returning actors Ronny Cox or John Ashton either), production began anyway, before you knew it, Axel Foley was back shooting off his mouth as much as he shoots his gun – but when audiences clapped their eyes on this muddled, Die-Hard-in-a-theme-park story and a plot that seemed as unfocused as a darts player tanked up on booze, it seemed that not even Axel Foley could talk his way out of this one.


After what should have been a simple raid on an illegal chop shop ends with his superior, Inspector Todd fatally shot, a guilty Axel Foley swears to bring down the parties responsible and tracks the gunmen to – where else – Beverly Hills, California where it seems that the bad guys are working out of a famous theme park known as Wonder World. Teaming up with old buddy Billy Rosewood, who has been promoted to a job overseeing interdepartmental jurisdiction with an ungodly acronym, Foley.soon discovers that the man responsible for Todd’s fatal intake of bullets is Ellis DeWald, the head of Wonder World’s security and a general big fish in Beverly Hills and strives to uncover his plans with the help of park employee Janice Perkins and beloved park owner Uncle Dave.
However, keeping a low profile proves to be impossible for a guy like Axel and while both Billy and fellow cop Jon Flint struggle to keep the Detroit cop contained, hollow-cheeked FBI agent Steve Fulbright surfaces to let Foley know he’s on the verge of screwing up a federal investigation into DeWald. That doesn’t stop our hero getting into gun fights, brawls, gate crashing a posh awards ceremony and even performing a daring rescue when two kids are placed in danger by a malfunctioning ride – but as Foley gets ever closer to what DeWald is up to – counterfeiting, if you must know – it seems that he’s only part of a larger conspiracy that the good guys have to unravel in order to get to the standard, climatic gunfight so we all can pack up, ho home and get on with our lives.


While not quite as unwatchable as some would have you believe, Beverly Hills Cop III suffers greatly from the fact that no one involved seems to have the first clue as to what made the first movie work. With original producers Simpson and Bruckheimer in the wind, the balance between action, comedy and cop film seems as poorly mixed as a Bloody Mary made by a chimp and instead we have a movie full of jokes and incident, that’s rarely genuinely funny of vaguely exciting.
It starts so well, too. With director John Landis on board (an old buddy of Murphy’s after directing him in both Trading Places and Coming To America) the opening scene sees Foley attempt to chase down Inspector Todd’s murder in a car that’s been partially taken apart and which then continues to disintegrate as the pursuit goes on (No one trashes cars quite like Landis), but after the set up ends and the action moves to the theme park setting, the ride begins to break down almost immediately. The script has no idea whatsoever what to do with Foley once he enters the park and has his investigation simply be to wander around behind the scenes until a bad guy takes a shot at him and likewise, Landis, for all of his comedy acumen, similarly seems clueless as how to wring any genuine laughs from a situation that’s positively bursting with cinematic opportunities. Instead, both the director and the script veer dangerously into the realms of the cartoonish having Bronson Pinchot’s flamboyantly accented Serge make a return while working in the weapons industry and give Foley a state of the art firearm called the Annihilator 2000 that also contains a radio, a microwave and a fax machine on it for some fucking reason. Murphy earned a cool 15 million for this tripe and all we get to show for it is a scene where he’s dressed in an elephant costume and he pushes a bratty kid into a fountain.


To be fair to the star, he genuinely looks engaged for the most part(for 15 million dollars he’d fucking better be) and while his energy is noticeably less wild in this one, his frantic mugging doesn’t feel like he phoned it in as much as other actors probably would have. Judge Reinhold’s Billy Rosewood also is still fun to be with, but Hector Elizondo and Theresa Randle just end up hovering around the outskirts of the plot, waiting blandly for the script to give them something to do as if it was an overdue bus.
You can tell the film just desperately wants to be liked and Landis continues to throw in nonsensical cameos that include Gremlins director Joe Dante, horror historian Forrest J. Ackermann, stop motion legend Ray Harryhausen and even Al Green, but fails to make the movie engrossing in even the slightest of ways – and the less said about George Lucas’ appearance as a disgruntled park goer the better.
Even the action turns out to be as nourishing as prison gruel as a potentially exciting (and legitimately dangerous looking) rescue mission concerning a malfunctioning ride is marred by some of the worst green screen work the 90’s ever produced and all the gun fights are dulled by other, more interesting things occuring at the same time. I should be focusing on Foley being fired upon by thugs in the middle of the Alien Invasion ride, but all I could find myself fixating on was the fact that Axel’s theme was apparently being scored by a marching band and that the scene was blatantly set in Universal Studio’s Earthquake ride that’s inexplicably populated by Cylons from the 80’s version of Battlestar Galactica – apparently Wonder World’s adherence to copyright laws are as lackadaisical as their health and safety measures.


If you need any real indicator of how horribly dated Beverley Hills Cop III is, just remember that Simpson and Bruckheimer released Bad Boys only a year later which is essentially a comedy cop movie with two Axel Foleys for the price of one and a higher focus on the blazing action and foul-mouthed ad-libbing that made Eddie Murphy a star in the first place.
Beverly Hills crap.


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