Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Release Date: December 5th, 1984 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Martin Brest Actors: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny Cox, Steven Berkoff, Jonathan Banks, Paul Reiser
everly Hills Cop” is, arguably, comedian Eddie Murphy’s finest film, brilliantly combining his improvisational wisecracking and infectious laugh with murder-mystery mayhem, adventure, unlikely sidekicks, and a hip techno soundtrack that would become the production’s trademark. Full of wild stunts, fast-talking comedy, and a slew of hilarious supporting characters, this surprise hit (especially considering it was originally a project for Sylvester Stallone) would spawn two sequels and is easily one of the most enjoyable of the abundant buddy-cop action films of the ‘80s. It also nabbed a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination (perhaps unjust considering the countless ad-libbed lines) and was directed by Martin Brest (“Midnight Run,” “Scent of a Woman”) back before his reputation toppled at the hands of “Gigli.”
Detroit detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) uses his loud mouth and in-your-face persuasiveness to go undercover in dangerous stings. The opening scene demonstrates his ability to stay quick on his feet and concoct plans on the fly – skills that find him hanging from the swinging back doors of a delivery truck as it careens down busy streets and demolishes half of the city during a particularly impressive, stunt-filled chase sequence. Shortly after getting chewed out by his commanding officer for the staggering amount of property destruction, Foley’s friend Mikey Tandino (James Russo) visits him after a 6-month stint in jail. The two were childhood pals, both frequently getting into trouble before Axel realized his passion for fighting crime. Mikey hasn’t completely broken away from shady business, however, and his involvement in a German bearer bond conspiracy ends in a professional hitman gunning him down.
Infuriated, Axel takes a vacation to sunny Beverly Hills to get to the bottom of a murder he is forbidden to get involved in. The clues provided by his longtime friend and gallery employee Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher) lead him to a top United States art dealer named Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff), who has Axel courteously thrown out of a window to be unfairly arrested for public disturbance. And no-nonsense police lieutenant Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox) isn’t pleased to discover the hardheaded Foley tearing through his town. He assigns detectives Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) to tail the Detroit detective and eventually escort him out of the city limits – but Axel wins over the two partners and convinces them to help him catch the cunning Maitland.
Although Murphy is a one-man-army comedian, the chemistry between Foley, Rosewood, and Taggart truly makes the movie hilarious. Foley continually marches into hazardous situations but uses jokes for defense and impersonations to infiltrate enemy bases; a shotgun in the face doesn’t faze him and, despite plenty of assassins and gunmen, he just won’t die. Outrageously, his sense of humor is his shield. But even when several of his jokes fall flat (the sheer quantity dictates that some won’t stick), the supporting characters are always there to pick up the pace. And some of it unexpectedly comes from nonessential background roles like Bronson Pinchot as the heavily accented and yet ethnically unidentifiable Serge.
– Mike Massie