Beverly Hills Cop III Reviews

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Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
August 15, 2013
I've spoken at grat length in my film reviews about the disappointing nature of threequels. Most of the time the disappointment comes from the first film or two films being really good and the third one falling short - but with Beverly Hills Cop the bar wasn't all that high to begin with. Nonetheless, Beverly Hills Cop III is the weakest instalment in the trilogy, with both John Landis and Eddie Murphy on autopilot and neither really wanting to be there.

As a film enthusiast, you're always looking to find the best in any given film. If a film is not great, you praise the bits that are good. If none of it is good, you argue that it's not memorably bad. If it is memorably bad, you put the case that it's so-bad-it's-good. And if it's offensively terrible (or terribly offensive), you try and argue that such offense could have some perverse cultural value. From this point of view the hardest films to defend - and the hardest to review - are those which are bad in a boring way, and Beverly Hills Cop III is a very bad, very boring film.

Considering how much I have criticised Simpson and Bruckheimer, it is ironic that the emptiest film in the series should be the one in which they had the least involvement. The high-concept duo left the project in the late-1980s, feeling that the story (as it was then) was too similar to that of Ridley Scott's thriller Black Rain. By the time Steven E. de Souza came on board, the film was being pitched as "Die Hard in a theme park", which was itself watered down as the budget was cut and Joel Silver jumped ship. The inertia that dogged the film's production is all too evident on screen, with both director and cast having a load of props but no idea how or why they should use them.

You could make the observation at this point that the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy is one of progressive narrative disengagement. The first film had good potential in its plot and a decent comic conceit, but it never really made the most of either and came out a little undercooked. BHC II rehashed the plot but gave even less credit to the audience's intelligence, resulting in a film that was flashy, asinine and dull. BHC III is arguably the most cynical, since there is no effort put into any part of its creative vision: it just sits there unwanted for 100 minutes, boring and depressing us, and then it's gone.

Despite its incredibly cynical nature, however, it's very hard to get angry at BHC III. You want to summon up a ball of rage against it, denounce the system that produced it, or John Landis for directing it, or Eddie Murphy was thinking it was a good script. But there is nothing in the film that could produce such a reaction, no matter how hard we try. Even with the re-emergence of Serge, one of the most annoying and offensive aspects of the first film, this is ultimately too boring and goofy to induce anger.

There are many bad films that induce anger because they squander great potential - The Millionairess and Atlantis being prime examples. But BHC III has very little potential to start with, and so when that potential isn't fulfilled upon, it almost plays to our expectations. Both Murphy and Landis' reputations for quality had taken hits by this juncture, leading us to revise our expectations downwards and hope for something serviceable. When we don't even get that, the stakes are too low to generate anything more than a mild twinge of disappointment.

Putting aside the lengthy production problems, much of the failure of BHC III can be blamed on Eddie Murphy. Landis took the gig knowing that the script wasn't any good, on the grounds that Martin Brest had got around the same problem by letting Murphy improvise. But when Landis tried to feed Murphy shtick or give him room to move, Murphy refused to say the lines or do anything funny. If Bronson Pinchot is to be believed, Murphy was very jealous of the success enjoyed by Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington in straight roles, and tried to steer away from anything that made Axel Foley a "wiseass" (i.e. pretty much everything). Some of Pinchot's longer scenes were shot with just Landis, which might explain why so many of the jokes fall flat.

Because Murphy is so unwilling to play ball, all of the moments in BHC III that could have been funny take on an odd and awkward feeling. The lengthy final set-piece on the Wonderworld rides feels like it was originally written as a big comic finale - perhaps along the lines of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, where every aspect of a building is used to source a joke or generate tension. But with Murphy missing all his cues, the other actors seem unsure of how to play the scenes, and the film increasingly feels like a comedy which is trying to escape itself.

Throughout the film there are little glimpses of Landis' comedic pedigree, but all these moments are so out of context that they almost feel like a pastiche. There's an early musical number, with the car-jackers dancing around to Diana Ross and the Supremes, but that's surrounded by attempts at serious build-up, including the killing-off of Foley's boss. The disintegration of Murphy's car in the ensuing chase might have worked in The Blues Brothers (or The Pink Panther series), but here it feels bizarre and unnecessary. The film continually fails at comedy, either by pulling up short of its punch lines or having no sense of timing.

At the very least, you would expect Landis to have made more of the theme park setting. Even if the physical or situational comedy fell flat, you could argue that there would be some value in a comedy which tried to poke fun at the corporate paranoia of Disney and the like. But as with its big set-pieces, the more dialogue-driven scenes are void of ambition; the satire is bald if not completely non-existent, and there are episodes of Scooby Doo with greater tension as to the identity of the villain.

The only other characteristic of BHC III that is becoming of Landis is the abundance of cameos. In my review of Burke & Hare, I praised Landis for his restraint in this regard, only bringing people in for a good knowing laugh - whether it's Jenny Agutter playing a hammy actress, or Michael Winner going off a cliff in a stagecoach. His use of cameos here is far more akin to Into The Night, with a host of famous film faces turning up for little to no good reason. The most obvious and awkward of these is George Lucas, whom Murphy forces off the ferris wheel just before he saves the children.

This brings us on nicely (or rather not) to the issue of exploitation. Not only is the film's satire of the Disney culture incredibly bald, but it often falls into the opposite trap and becomes as blatantly manipulative as the theme parks itself. The entire action scene involving Murphy saving the children is a shameless attempt to engender empathy with his character - empathy that is never justified at any other point before or after. Likewise Theresa Randle's character gets nothing to do except be put in situations where Axel can save her or hit on her. While she's by no means the worst example of a damsel in distress in fiction, it's still a very cheap trick.

The performances in BHC III are all immensely lacklustre. Murphy sets the tone, looking either bored or frustrated and giving the distinct impression that he has fallen out of love with the character. Judge Reinhold is largely phoning it in, making very little of Billy's new powers and having no-one to bounce off (both Ronny Cox and John Ashton declined to appear). Timothy Carhart makes the very least of his villain, hitting most of the beats he needs to but not leaving any lasting impression. Even Alan Young, most famous for voicing Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales, doesn't particularly register: he does the minimum that is required, and then leaves as soon as he can.

Beverly Hills Cop III is a boring and depressing end to a franchise that barely got off the ground in the first place. With both its star and director working against their strengths and no effort being expended on the script, the film trudges and slumps from one failed joke to the next before eventually collapsing in a sorry heap. Ultimately it's too boring to get too angry about, but it remains a low point in the careers of all involved.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
The third and last movie of this series follows the same formula as the last one, there are no surprises, in fact it's worse than the second one. I did not like this movie, and I don't recommend it.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2007
The weakest in the series by quite a way. The first 2 were very good and I thought the second film was the best, just a bit slicker than the other two. It's a real shame that the Taggert character is not in this one. It starts with plenty of action but things get a bit silly and camp at the wonderworld theme park. Good to see Bronson Pinchot, Serge, back from the first film though. Hopefully next years 4th installment will have as many of the characters from the original as possible and a better story than this.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2009
I can't decide which is worse, plagiarist remakes or regurgitated sequels?
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2008
Eddie Murphy's third outing as Detroit police detective Axel Foley who seems to have made more of a crime fighting contribution to Beverly Hills still generates some power in the series but the first two films are naturally the better ones. The film inexplicably removes the John Taggart (John Ashton) and Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox) characters from the series and adds a shallow new character named John Flint (Hector Elizondo). Fortunately, Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) is still around and he still manages to be a perfect foil for Foley. Foley's third case in Beverly Hills is a little improbable but the action scenes help to make up for the plot which has to do with Foley matching wits with a corrupt head of security (Timothy Carhart) at a popular Beverly Hills amusement park called WonderWorld (a creation of Paramount Parks). The park character costumes and designs are nice and colorful and Theresa Randle helps to pick things up as a potential love interest for Foley but the film doesn't give Murphy very many funny lines and that is a disappointment if one wants to label this film as a comedy. The action is as usual great but Murphy is reknowned as a comedy star and the lack of laughs here prevent this from being a perfect series. Still, it's a very good series.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2007
A brillant piece of fun. Loaded with non-stop action and wicked comedy.
Super Reviewer
½ January 9, 2007
classic like the others
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2006
Eddie Murphy returns as Detriot cop Axel Foley where he journeys back to Beverly Hills for a real roller coaster thrill ride at the Wonderworld amusement park is bit bored, not much wild action-comedy than the sequels. But good to see most of the characters from the first two films back on board.
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2007
Waste of time. Not the right way to end a great series.
Super Reviewer
½ December 28, 2006
It was thought that if John Landis returned as director, this sequel would recapture the magic lost by the horrendous second film. They were wrong. Witless, unfunny and gratuitously violent.
Super Reviewer
½ December 27, 2006
Funny but not as good as the first two.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2006
Not as good as the first, but alright.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2006
This movie issn't very good at all, but I have fun every time I see it. Murphy knows how to deliver one-liners.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2013
Axel Foley is back for one last adventure in Beverly Hills Cop III. This time Axel tracks the murderer of his boss to a California amusement park that's secretly running a counterfeiting ring. The tone's more lighthearted and fun than in the previous two films, and allows Eddie Murphy to let loose. However, the increased jokiness that Murphy brings lessens the threat of the villains. The amusement park setting also takes some of the grittiness out of the film, though it makes for some clever pop culture satire. While it's not as hard hitting as the previous installments, Beverly Hills Cop III is a wildly entertaining comedy.
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2008
The worst one as far as the critics are concerned, but it has its moments definitely.
Super Reviewer
August 20, 2010
Plot: While investigating a Detroit chop-shop, Axel sees his boss killed by a well dressed man. Axel traces the gang back to a theme park called WonderWorld and recognizes the main head of security, De Wald as the killer and must set out to prove it to a police force.

In spite of the fact that this third installment carries a fairly original premise, certain elements and gags seem to be recycled for the first film. All in all, it still provides some entertainment and Eddie Murphy comes through with a likable performance.(Good but pales in comparison to its predecessors)
Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2009
Worst out of the three.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2009
Not the strongest in the series. It has some great parts and is a part of the series. I can see it as a progression of the characters but at the same time it just kinda felt like something was off.
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2009
bronson pinchot saves this from the garbage. BARELY. "ACKWELL FOLEE!"
Super Reviewer
February 17, 2006
Better than the 2nd film in the trilogy due to the lack of Nielsen, the amusement park setting and the return to what made the original: the characters. I adore Reinhold in this.
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