Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

What's that wisecracking young black guy (Eddie Murphy) in that beat-up Chevy Nova doing in lily-white Beverly Hills? He's Axel Foley, a Detroit detective who's been sent on involuntary vacation because he refuses to drop his intention of avenging his friend's murder. Warned by Beverly Hills police chief Ronny Cox to stay out of trouble, Foley nonetheless dogs the trail of above-the-law Steven Berkoff, the British crime czar who was responsible for the murder of Foley's friend. With the help of … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Daniel Petrie Jr., William D. Wittliff, Sam Simon, Patrick Vincent, Daniel Petrie
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 29, 2002
Runtime:
Paramount Pictures

Cast


as Axel Foley

as Det. Billy Rosewood

as Sgt. Taggart

as Jenny Summers

as Lt. Bogomil

as Victor Maitland

as Mikey Tandino

as Chief Hubbard

as Inspector Todd

as Detective Foster

as Detective McCabe

as Jeffrey

as Cigarette Buyer

as Truck Driver

as Hotel Manager

as Hotel Clerk

as Maitland Receptionis...

as Beverly Hills Cop

as 2nd Beverly Hills Co...

as Room Service Waiter

as Bell Hop

as Banana Man

as Crate Opener

as Crate Opener

as Bonded Warehouse Nig...

as Bonded Warehouse Sec...

as Bonded Warehouse Cle...

as Bonded Warehouse Cle...

as Holdup Man

as Holdup Man

as Maitre d'

as Arresting Officer

as Dispatcher

as Detective Owenby

as Detroit Cop

as Detroit Cop

as Detroit Cop

as Detroit Cop

as Detroit Cop

as Detroit Cop

as Pool Player

as Maitland Body Guard
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Beverly Hills Cop

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (7)

Murphy exudes the kind of cheeky, cocky charm that has been missing from the screen since Cagney was a pup, snarling his way out of the ghetto.

Full Review… | June 6, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

It's one of the few star comedies of the early 80s to allot some humor and personality to the minor characters.

Full Review… | August 7, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Expectations that Eddie Murphy's street brand of rebelliousness would devastate staid and glittery Beverly Hills are not entirely met in a film that grows increasingly dramatic.

Full Review… | August 7, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

The connecting stuff is just bagatelle.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Eddie Murphy looks like the latest victim of the Star Magic Syndrome, in which it is assumed that a movie will be a hit simply because it stars an enormously talented person.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Mr. Murphy knows exactly what he's doing, and he wins at every turn.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Beverly Hills Cop

½

In a piece he wrote for GQ a couple of years ago, Mark Harris opined that much of Hollywood's current malaise stems from the mind-set of the generation running the studios. Hollywood's recent conservative spiral has come about because the people green-lighting film came of age at the dawn of the modern blockbuster. In his words: "the guys who felt the rush of Top Gun... [are] now in [their] forties... And increasingly, it is their taste, their appetite, and the aesthetic of their late-'80s post-adolescence that is shaping moviemaking."

Whether you agree with Harris or not, his argument would help to explain Hollywood's increasingly obsession with remaking every successful 1980s film. The re-emergence of Fame, Footloose, Red Dawn and a host of others certainly gives the impression that the 1980s was a golden time, with each of these films being classics in their field. But of course, even a cursory glance is enough to debunk this notion - and so it is with Beverly Hills Cop, which now looks really ordinary after 29 years on the beat.

Just like Top Gun two years later, Beverly Hills Cop is a classic example of the high-concept film - an idea supposedly invented by Steven Spielberg but most firmly identified with Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It is a film whose entire story is contained in its title or tagline - Eddie Murphy is a cop in Beverly Hills. Axel Foley's origins in Detroit have no bearing other than to create a contrast with the other police force; frankly, he could be from Florida and it wouldn't make any difference to the plot or the comic conceit.

We could debate the legacy of Simpson and Bruckheimer all day, but their approach does help to explain a lot of the characteristics of Beverly Hills Cop. Harris again puts it best when he says, in the same article: "their movies weren't movies; they were pure product - stitched-together amalgams of amphetamine action beats, star casting, music videos, and... technological adrenaline all designed to distract you from their lack of internal coherence, narrative credibility, or recognizable human qualities."

His comments are echoed by an observation John Landis made at a Q&A session in 2009. Speaking about his involvement in Beverly Hills Cop III, Landis remarked that the first film had a terrible script, and that it was only funny because director Martin Brest allowed Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold to improvise most of their dialogue. This might help to explain a lot of the long pauses in between the characters' stories; whenever a big explanation has to take place to their superiors about what happened, the camera just hangs on them for a few seconds, as though Brest was waiting for anything else that was funny.

Fittingly, the opening section of the film does owe a lot to Landis. The opening montage is like a blue-collar version of the opening to Trading Places, with the run-down architecture of Detroit and Patti LaBelle's 'New Attitude' taking the place of refined New York City building and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Both the opening chase and the final showdown take heavily after the multi-car pile-ups in The Blues Brothers, though they are executed with much less timing and panache. Had Landis not made such a pig's ear of the third film, you might hazard to say he would have been a safer bet here.

Because the film is essentially a star vehicle for Eddie Murphy, it should come as little surprise that the story of Beverly Hills Cop isn't that great. But what's perplexing is that, in the right hands, it could have been. The series of events has more than enough twists and turns in it to make a decent procedural or mystery drama. Don't get me wrong, it's not Chinatown, but it would have been enough to keep people guessing, if only for a while.

Similarly, there is a nice little idea in the character of Axel Foley. Foley is a cop who gets results by going above the law, and the comedy (supposedly) arises from him being put in a place where everyone goes only by the book. Foley's knack of getting results based on his hunches and misdirection could have been explored in more detail, with the consequences of him messing up serving as an emotional anchor. Instead the closest we come to any kind of anchor is Foley's boss Todd, played convincingly by real-life Detroit cop Gil Hall.

The central problem with Beverly Hills Cop is that it makes the absolute least of its material. Problems with the original screenplay could have been remedied in the direction, and the improvisation should have worked wonders considering how talented Murphy was as a stand-up. Instead all of Murphy's energy is over-indulged, with Brest not giving him the boundaries or the character direction that Landis gave him in Trading Places. In that film, Murphy was working within set boundaries and doing the best he could. Here, he's given a free reign and so is very hit-and-miss, with none of the bad stuff being cut because the script has nothing to fall back on in the first place.

As a result of this lack of discipline from both director and star, the plot of Beverly Hills Cop becomes convoluted to the point where it is almost irrelevant. The audience are spoon-fed all the major plot points through exposition from Foley - or if not through exposition, then through improv that goes on for too long. Eventually we give up trying to find out for ourselves who killed Foley's friend, because if we wait around long enough the film will tell us, and we won't have to think.

At this point you might argue that the majority of 1980s blockbusters were this asinine and patronising, and that I am simply attacking a trend rather than dealing with issues specific to this film. But this line of reasoning can be swiftly dismissed by comparing Beverly Hills Cop with Lethal Weapon. Both have similar conceits of an out-of-control police officer working with people of opposite persuasions to take down a dangerous criminal. But Lethal Weapon is by far the better film, with a funnier script, more character development, and direction from Richard Donner which complements the action rather than just capturing it.

Lethal Weapon also has the edge as far as performances are concerned. Whatever you may think of Mel Gibson's personal life or political views, he is brilliant as Martin Riggs, and Danny Glover is a perfect match for him. Murphy is talented, and he is working with some talented people in the form of Ronny Cox of Deliverance fame and Judge Reinhold, who had recently come from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But other than Gil Hall, none of the supporting cast are strong or convincing enough to reign Murphy in. Even Steven Berkoff, in uptight threatening ham mode, can't provide the counterbalance needed to give the Axel Foley character meaning.

On top of this, there is also an uncomfortable homophobic undercurrent in the film. This is most likely a product of the time; Hollywood is notorious for the slow speed at which its attitudes towards different social groups changes. But even with the historical context, the mincing depiction of many male characters is offensive and too blatant to ignore. Such events don't derail the film, but only because there is nothing really to derail in the first place.

What we are left with is a film of barely passable mediocrity - 100-odd minutes of disposable action and attempted comedy which don't really hang together and don't amount to much more than escapist diversion. The soundtrack is decent but very repetitive, the cinematography is pretty standard, and the ending meets some of our expectations but doesn't deliver any kind of knock-out punch. It's not a crushing disappointment in the manner of Beowulf or Atlantis: The Lost Empire; both of these films squandered great potential, while this has much less to squander in the first place. Instead it's a film that might induce a chuckle, but mainly leaves us with the resignation that comes from lowered expectations.

Beverly Hills Cop is a flat and rather aimless action comedy that hasn't stood the test of time at all well. For all the individual moments where the dialogue sparks or the action becomes engaging, it has none of the driving energy of Lethal Weapon from the story, direction or performances. As an historical document it's still of interest, and Eddie Murphy die-hards will probably enjoy it more. But as a comedy, plain and simple, it's just not funny anymore.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Axel Foley: Disturbing the peace? I got thrown out of a window! What's the fuckin' charge for getting pushed out of a moving car, huh? Jaywalking? 

"The Heat Is On!"

I had seen glimpses of this movie on television many times, but this was surprisingly the first time I watched the whole movie. What I got from it wad that Eddie Murphy used to be a boss. I absolutely loved him in this movie. From the first scene where he is undercover selling some shady guys a shit load of cigarettes to his final smile as the film ends; he's on the top of his game. He's hilarious, but at times his performance teeters on being 100% serious. The guy obviously used to be an amazing comedic actor and if you need proof of that, look no further. Beverly Hills Cop is classic Eddie Murphy for all the people who are over the shit he's throwing out now.

Axel Foley is a Detroit cop who is described as a great cook with great potential, but he's a little too aggressive. He's smart, charismatic, and extremely arrogant. He goes behind his chiefs back and sets up undercover busts without authorization. One day, an old friend pays him a visit and they hang out for awhile. When they return to Foley'a apartment, two men jump them, knocking Foley unconscious and killing his friend. The two men were professionals. Foley is told to stay away from the case, but he takes vacation in Beverly Hills(his friends last employment spot) on a hunch that the friends employer had something to do with his death. He runs into some Beverly Hills cops and then a lot of shit goes down. 

This movie really is just an extremely fun time. There's a lot of slapstick like gags thrown in for humorous effect, but the film is at its best when Murphy is talking and bullshitting. The dialogue is actually surprisingly good and occasionally really smart, while the music choices seem a little much at times. Overall the formula Martin Breast used here was a good one. The movie feels like it flies by and there's no down time. It's a quick moving and above average cop comedy.

Vintage Eddie Murphy fans already know this film and, for the most part, probably love it. For all you people who have never seen a glimpse of some old school Murphy and have only seen movies from him like Haunted Mansion; you owe it to yourself to give this one a look. No matter what your feelings toward Murphy are, they will be changed when you watch him kill it in Beverly Hills Cop. I've always liked Murphy, but I now have a new level of respect for him.

blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

½

Funny and entertaining, Beverly Hills Cop it's one of the best comedy actions from the 80's, without being cliche or boring.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Beverly Hills Cop Quotes

– Submitted by Diego T (4 years ago)

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