Film reviews and more since 2009

Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) review

Dir. Martin Landis

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★

Beverly Hills Cop III is littered with a lack of inspiration and excitement when, considering its genre, it should be overflowing with those attributes. It’s so uninspired and redundant that it actually makes me recall its unremarkable but not wholly irredeemable predecessor with a certain fondness. Its predecessor suffered from a lack of interest in trying anything new with its material, but at least it featured a strong performance by Eddie Murphy and some engaging direction by Tony Scott. This film can barely muster up the energy to make you want to watch it until the end credits.

The film, once again, concerns Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), the wise-cracking street cop who was ejected from the streets of Detroit, where every bad neighborhood was dealt with the “hard knocks” way to Beverly Hills, where affluence and extravagance takes place. But even in the wealthy area comes crime, as we learn about a band of counterfeiters who are rampantly printing money and are also responsible for the murder of Foley’s boss. With his best friend and partner Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) by his side at all times, Axel begins scoping out a local theme park by the name of Wonder World, which is the likely source for this criminal activity. The problem is that the theme park is patrolled around-the-clock by corrupt security officials and guards, aware of the illegal activity at hand, but uninterested in reporting it, and making Foley look like a delusional, mentally unstable man for thinking so (not hard, when you run around wailing a gun and shouting).

The first film in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise was a big winner in my book, bearing frequent laughs due to Eddie Murphy’s constant, zealous comic ability and delivery combined with Martin Brest’s terrific direction, which blended the action and comedy together fittingly and excitingly. The sequel, on the other hand, had some considerable charm, given Murphy was still on top of his game and changing directors from Brest to Tony Scott wasn’t a bad move, given Scott’s incredible ability at action setpieces, however, the film had a frustrating inertness when it came to wanting to try something new and different.

With the third film, all energy and hope is lost, starting with a criminal move by writer Steven E. de Souza to undermine Murphy’s comedic talent, giving him a more traditionalist, interchangeable cop persona rather than one that has ability to excite or provide substantial comedy. Murphy looks tired and ferociously unamused with the film, as if de Souza wrote the Beverly Hills Cop III in a vindictive manner, not giving any thought to what made the first two films click so well to even warrant the creation of a third film. In addition, the action just isn’t there from a directorial standpoint, which is shocking considering John Landis was the man behind the camera, the same man who made The Blues Brothers such a powerhouse flick in terms of its action setpieces.

It’s as if you took Hollywood’s two most promising names at the time and made them do something they would normally do in such a lackadaisical manner. In addition, the time period doesn’t feel right either. Shot ten years after the first film kickstarted this franchise in 1984, Beverly Hills Cop III feels stuck in the wrong era, as the famous theme song “Axel F” begins to take on aggravating, repetitive heights after blending so well with the cheesy, eighties aesthetic in the first two films. Not to mention, cheesy eighties cop films were a staple, where most nineties films of the same genre feel like cloying ripoffs or inferior distractions from the abundance of capable ones we once witnessed.

There’s one great scene in Beverly Hills Cop III, which takes place in Wonder World after a gigantic, complex roller-coaster ride stopped working due to park/security incompetence. Foley has to resort to saving two young children, stuck on the ride, about to fall to their deaths by almost cheating death, climbing all over the ride in every which way. The scene is suspenseful and works, so much so, that I would’ve rather seen Murphy rescue the other ten, eleven, or twelve people on the ride for the remaining hour or so than endure what mediocrity Beverly Hills Cop III threw at me.

NOTE: As of this writing, Beverly Hills Cop III is available to stream on Paramount+.

My review of Beverly Hills Cop
My review of Beverly Hills Cop II
My review of Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Starring: Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold. Directed by: John Landis.

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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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