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Beverly Hills Cop

July 20, 2015

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Director: Martin Brest
Actors: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton

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Synopsis: Maverick Detroit street cop, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), takes himself off to the unlikely climes of the sun-dappled, upmarket city of Beverly Hills to investigate the brutal murder of his friend….

Review: I am of a certain age where Beverly Hills Cop (along with say Back to the FutureFerris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club) represents a specific point in my cultural consciousness. This isn’t just through the obvious (I went on to become a huge cinephile), but as it also memorialised that halcyonic moment in my youth where Americana and Hollywood fare in general seemed awfully exciting and exotic, and many a late ’80s summer holiday would be wiled away, in part, by running down to my local Blockbusters store and bringing back one of these gems to watch with my brother, sister and fellow kids in my street.

While those other three films mentioned have gone on to achieve a huge level of cult and critical esteem – and I’ve revisited them all in the last decade or so – I hadn’t seen Beverly Hills Cop for the best part of 25 years, so when I recently realised my housemate owned a DVD copy of the film, I was more than happy to take a trip down “Amnesia Lane”, to piece apart the reality of the film from its totemic status in my mind.

Perhaps the most obvious and recognisable feature of the film is its quite brilliant soundtrack by Harold Faltemeyer. Sadly, it’s also practically the only worthwhile thing about the film, and even then – almost as if the filmmakers knew what mediocrity they were working with – Faltemeyer’s soundtrack is almost too ubiquitous, clearly trying to gloss over the cracks of a paper-thin scenario. Even the film’s twofold comic ingredients of having foul-mouth black Detroit cop Axel Foley turn up in the seemingly crime-free, ‘by the book’ Beverly Hills, and Foley’s rapport with the “Abbot and Costello” cop sidekicks Rosewood and Taggart, are both lame and obvious conceits.

This film was also a reminder that away from Murphy’s iconic comic status and star quality at the time, he was a limited dramatic actor – making almost untenable the tauter moments of the narrative that one needs to buy into for the film to work. Still, it’s inoffensive enough for a 90-minute nostalgia fest, and Faltemeyer’s brilliant synth score (including the immemorial ‘Axel F’) stands the test of time. I’m also pretty sure the filmmakers of the recent 21/22 Jump Street franchise gleaned a fair few of their ideas from this movie and scenario. (July 2015)

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