Film reviews and more since 2009

Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) review

Dir. Tony Scott

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★½

If there were ever a sequel to almost, almost succeed entirely on the charisma and charm of its lead actor, it would be Beverly Hills Cop II, the sequel to the unexpected action-comedy surprise of 1984 that skyrocketed at the box office and made actor Eddie Murphy a high-profile name. It also helped kickstart the career of Martin Brest, a highly underrated director who went on to do films like Meet Joe Black and Midnight Run. The film helped the careers of several involved, and the main problem with the sequel is that it operates as if its predecessor never existed in the strangest possible way.

Before elaborating on that, Murphy reprises his role as Detroit police detective Axel Foley, who teams up once again with Beverly Hills detectives Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) to stop a gun-smuggling gang after the department’s captain is shot and seriously wounded. Of course, when working with Axel, it’s never a dull day, as Axel uses his wiseguy attitude, motormouth tendencies, and exaggerated emotions to further himself in the Beverly Hills life, which he learned in the last film, is much different than the kind of “street operations” that are conducted in Detroit.

The issue at hand here is that Beverly Hills Cop II, despite undergoing a change in writers and a change in director, simply feels like it’s trying to replicate success rather than trying something different with the formula. Even with the visual artist and the dazzling-effects manager of Tony Scott in the director’s chair, providing Beverly Hills Cop II with a distinct look and hue in the visual department, the film never feels like it wants to take any chances or provide us with some daring, more elaborate instances that would make it standout rather than seem almost like a remake of its predecessor.

The person to thank for not making this feature as glaringly obtrusive as it could’ve been is definitely Eddie Murphy, who simply doesn’t change and doesn’t need to. Murphy has such a zippy and energetic comedic flow and talent that his abilities translate beautifully to a sequel, as he winds up giving probably one of the strongest comedic performances in comedy history in the last two films. Murphy’s hilarity is only heightened when Larry Ferguson (writer for The Hunt for Red October) and Warren Skaaren (writer for the original Batman and Beetlejuice) create a scene that he can steal without almost any effort, commanding the entire set with his trademarks and his energy. With those scenes, Murphy becomes an unmatchable force of comedic wit.

It’s a shame the film surrounding Murphy isn’t as good as Murphy himself. Outside of its core performance and immersing visual style, Beverly Hills Cop II lays dormant as it is overtaken by a cookie-cutter, forgettable plot and a setup that feels too close to the original to succeed just as well as it did the first time around. Axel Foley is a memorable comic character and Murphy is an amazing comic spirit; both persons deserve more than Beverly Hills Cop II can offer them in the grander scheme.

NOTE: As of this writing, Beverly Hills Cop II is available to stream on Netflix.

My review of Beverly Hills Cop
My review of Beverly Hills Cop III

My review of Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, and Ronny Cox. Directed by: Tony Scott.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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