Blockbuster Movie Month: "Beverly Hills Cop" Review

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Rating: R
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: December 05, 1984
Directed by: Martin Brest
Genre: Action / Comedy / Crime

Featuring an entertaining plot, some memorable action scenes and actor Eddie Murphy in one of his best roles, "Beverly Hills Cop" is easily one of the most treasured action comedies of the 1980s. When a street-smart cop from Detroit is determined to solve his best friend's murder, his search leads him to Beverly Hills. He is hot on the trail of his suspect, but the closer he gets, the more danger he encounters. From an action-packed plot to Murphy's hilarious antics, "Beverly Hills Cop" has a lot to offer.

Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a spirited but reckless Detroit detective who quickly gets on the nerves of his boss when an unauthorized sting operation goes awry, leading to Foley being chased hilariously through Detroit by two unsuspecting police officers. The young detective is ecstatic when his childhood friend Mikey (James Russo) visits from California, telling him that he got a job as a security guard in Beverly Hills thanks to a friend named Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher). The two have a few drinks at a bar before returning to Foley's apartment, but the detective is knocked unconscious when he arrives home. Meanwhile, Mikey is held and questioned by some thugs before he is heartlessly murdered.

Foley is distraught at the loss of his friend, and he desires more than anything to catch whoever is responsible. Due to his proximity to the case, he is refused the right to work on it, so Foley pretends that he wants to take some time off to go on vacation and recover. Instead, he goes to Beverly Hills where he meets with Jenny, who works at an art gallery, and questions her to find out who might have wanted Mikey dead. He soon learns that Mikey's boss was an art dealer named Victor Maitland, so Foley decides to question him. However, his attempt at talking to the art dealer leads to him being tossed out by Maitland's bodyguards and subsequently arrested. Things seem hopeless for Foley, but when he meets two Beverly Hills police officers who are assigned to follow him after his release, he has an easy time keeping them off his tail.

Foley is forbidden from performing any type of police work, but his sly techniques keep him off the radar of the Beverly Hills police as he tracks Maitland, who is now his prime suspect. The wisecracking Detroit detective stands out like a sore thumb in the high-class neighborhoods of the iconic city, but he continues to unravel the mystery of his friend's death even as he attracts unwanted attention. When Foley and Jenny break into one of Maitland's warehouses and make an astonishing discovery, the detective faces one of the biggest challenges of his crime-fighting career.

"Beverly Hills Cop" is certainly entertaining, with its fast-paced plot and hilarious situations, but it at times suffers from weak plot points, inadequate character development and vastly unrealistic situations. Viewers have to overlook the countless coincidences and lucky breaks to enjoy this witty film. This is easy to do with characters as funny and likable as Murphy's Axel Foley. Audiences cannot help but root for the street-smart detective thanks to Murphy's spot-on portrayal.

The role of Foley was originally meant to be played by Sylvester Stallone, which would have resulted in a much more serious, intense film. Viewers are grateful that Murphy took the role instead, rescuing the comedy action flick from some of its weaker points and creating a memorable film. Because Foley was meant to be played by a white actor, audiences find that the character does not suffer from the same stereotypical behaviors and lines common among African-American movie characters of the 1980s. The result is certainly a breath of fresh air as Murphy keeps it cool without losing his signature sense of humor.

Although Murphy steals the spotlight for most of the film, the supporting cast also gives commendable performances. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton are convincing and entertaining in their roles as Detective Rosewood and Sergeant Taggart, the two officers who are assigned to tail Foley. Lisa Eilbacher gives a refreshing performance as Jenny, injecting her character with all the bravery and spunk she deserves. Ronny Cox, Steven Berkoff and James Russo also give great performances.

"Beverly Hills Cop" may not be the best action comedy of the decade, but it has certainly become one of the most beloved. Murphy gives one of the best performances of his career, and fans agree that it stands head and shoulders above its three sequels.