Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Release Date: May 20th, 1987 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Tony Scott Actors: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Ronny Cox, Jurgen Prochnow, Brigitte Nielsen, Dean Stockwell, Paul Reiser
he snazzy techno music is back (plus the Oscar-nominated original song “Shakedown”), along with almost the entire cast of the original, in this action-soaked sequel released a lengthy three years later. A new, usually capable director (Tony Scott) is at the helm, but some of the magic is lost to a more complex plot, sillier villains, and a disproportionate ratio of greater gunplay and explosions than comedy. Eddie Murphy still gets to deliver improvised speeches, but they all seem repetitive; the freshness of his breakneck dialogue and impetuously derived humor no longer stands out, even though “Beverly Hills Cop II” is written in part by Murphy himself.
Detroit detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) has a new car, a new undercover gig, and the same stressed-out boss. When he learns that his friend – and captain of the Beverly Hills Police Department – Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox) has been shot, he journeys back to California to help crack the case. Upon arrival, it seems that everyone in the precinct is getting demoted due to shifty politics, while an “alphabet note” robber (where crimes are committed based on letters and Zodiac-killer type ciphers) is stirring up a storm of potentially related thefts and murders.
Foley’s amped-up wisecracking and mile-a-minute jokes don’t impress the nonindulgent replacement police chief (Allen Garfield), who prohibits Axel’s cop buddies Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) from doing anything but traffic duty. So it’s up to the rebellious threesome to bend a few rules, disobey a couple of orders, and solve the mystery. During their investigation, they’ll need to get to the bottom of oilman Maxwell Dent’s (Jurgen Prochnow) involvement with the toweringly leggy blonde Karla Fry (Brigitte Nielsen, who’s not afraid to use her gun or her awkward accent) and gun club manager Charles Cain (Dean Stockwell), as well as the troubling exportation of some very heavy artillery.
“Would you lighten up and take some risks!” Detective work sure is simpler, more fun, and less realistic when Murphy’s in the lead. Audiences get to learn a little bit more about Rosewood and his odd love for animals, plants, and flowers and his unhealthy idolization of Rambo; somehow the group ends up at the Playboy Mansion; and the film squeezes in a slow-speed cement-mixer chase scene. But the anticipation for this follow-up far outweighs the execution of unnecessary details, additional bonding, and, ultimately, decreased humor.
As with most sequels, the story, characters, gags, and style deteriorate just a little bit, and this series is no exception. Eddie Murphy is still definitely Eddie Murphy, but even with the familiar faces and similar chemistry between the main trio of cops, this second installment can’t recreate the nearly perfect atmosphere of the original. Continuing with the mood of an almost entirely improvised screenplay, this laugh-a-minute actioner doesn’t have quite enough spirit, sadly replaced with a mediocre villain and enough serious downtime between the chases and jokes that the pacing and overall entertainment value conspicuously suffer.
– Mike Massie