Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.
Release Date: May 25th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R
Director: John Landis Actors: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Hector Elizondo, Theresa Randle, Dan Martin, Stephen McHattie
n Detroit, Michigan, in the wee hours of the morning, maverick Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) and his team of policemen finalize the details of a big bust. The targets are simple mechanics running a carjacking operation, so Foley carelessly cancels the arrival of a SWAT team – against the advice of his superior. Sure enough, machinegun-toting gangsters riddle the warehouse with bullets to swipe a smuggled shipment of unknown but valuable materials, catching Foley’s squad completely unprepared. Engaging in a firefight and car chase through the vacated streets leaves Inspector Todd (Gil Hill) dead and several others wounded.
Secret Service Agent Steve Fulbright (Stephen McHattie) interrupts Foley’s pursuit to inform him that he’s stumbled upon a Federal investigation that requires the culprits escaping so that their merchandise and intended buyer can be discovered and apprehended. Refusing to drop the case, Axel journeys to the Beverly Hills Police Department to visit longtime buddy Sergeant William Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), who might be able to help. Officer Jon Flint (Hector Elizondo, a visually comparable replacement for John Ashton’s Taggert) is supposed to set up a meeting with Ellis De Wald (Timothy Carhart), the Director of Security for Wonder World, a major California amusement park (where an “Alien Attack” exhibit is recognizably filmed at Universal Studios). Foley’s snooping alerts armed guards that cause numerous problems when they begin shooting and destroying rides, endangering park guests, and revealing a criminal conspiracy between De Wald, enforcers for hire, Wonder World, and other shady parties.
It starts with a bang, throwing cops against gunmen in an explosive shootout and vehicle chase, involving plenty of death and destruction and Murphy behind the wheel of a flashy red sports car – careening around to rock ‘n’ roll tunes. The storyline picks up quickly, leading to further action sequences, including a malfunctioning Ferris wheel-type attraction, underground skirmishes, and public embarrassments at elite gatherings. Shortly thereafter, however, the subversive machinations are complicated with meandering subplots that slow down the pacing more than they heighten suspense. Jurisdictional run-ins, a momentary romantic interest with park safety employee Janice Perkins (Theresa Randle), a missing designer, the introduction of Wonder World showman Uncle Dave (Alan Young), and hopelessly inept henchmen don’t help usher things along either.
Cameos by Bronson Pinchot (reprising his previous role), George Lucas, Julie Strain, Ray Harryhausen, and others are curious but not amusing. And more puzzling still is the use of accomplished but unrecognizable Hollywood directors (such as Peter Medak, Arthur Hiller, Barbet Schroeder, John Singleton, and Joe Dante) in very brief appearances. These wasted peculiarities are even muddier with the increasingly greater loss of focus on humor. An annoyingly uninspired villain, gimmicky fight scenes (primarily with the ludicrously contrived Annihilator 2000 total security unit, a lightweight, high-performance multi-use weapon), and the lack of sincerity in the face of danger are further laugh-retardants. Foley again proves suspiciously hard to kill (even in a chunky elephant costume), but this time around, the situations aren’t nearly as funny or thrilling as in the last two entries and Murphy appears far less enthusiastic and energetic.
– Mike Massie