Close this search box.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Review: A Splendid Throwback

Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley leans on a car through the window, smiling, in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.

Netflix’s Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is 80s cheesiness with a modern flair and Eddie Murphy at his best in quite some time.

Director: Mark Molloy
Genre: Action, Comedy
Run Time: 115′
Global Release: July 3, 2024
Where to watch: Netflix

After spending decades in development hell, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F finally brings the one and only Detective Axel Foley back. To say it has been a long road to get here would be an understatement when you consider that development on this project began in the mid 1990s.

You cannot blame those involved for being gun-shy after the disaster that was Beverly Hills Cop III in 1994. That installment stripped the series of its trademark edge by limiting itself to the confines of a PG-13 rating and is widely considered by many, including franchise star Eddie Murphy, to be its weakest entry. 

As a fan, I had given up hope that we would ever see one of Murphy’s most iconic characters ever again. There had been so many false starts with a potential fourth film and even a failed CBS television series pilot that still has not seen the light of day. Even when Paramount Pictures announced they had stuck a license deal to make the film with Netflix, I was not convinced. To be honest, nothing with this project was going to be real in my mind until I sat down and watched the finished film.

Now that I have seen it, I can safely say that Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is not only better than its predecessor by a mile, but also represents the best entry in the series since the first. Murphy is sharper than ever as Axel Foley, which might be shocking. After all, when he revisited the character of Prince Akeem in 2021’s Coming 2 America, he appeared to have lost a step. This outing proves that Murphy can still tap into what makes him special with the right script.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F sees Detroit Detective Axel Foley (Murphy) return to Beverly Hills, California after his estranged daughter, Jane (Taylour Paige, of Zola) finds herself in danger. Axel and Jane, work with police detective (and Jane’s ex) Bobby Abbott (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of 500 Days of Summer), as well as Axel’s old friends John Taggart (John Ashton, of Midnight Run) and Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold, of Fast Times at Ridgemont High), to uncover a mystery.

Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley and Taylour Paige as Jane Saunders in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.
(L to R) Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley and Taylour Paige as Jane Saunders in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix © 2024.)

While this screenplay from Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten is solid, it also feels like it was plucked out of the 80s, for better or worse. That has more to do with the structure and tropes utilized than anything else. What we have here is a film that hits a lot of similar notes as Beverly Hills Cop (1984) in the way that several requels such as Scream (2022) have without actually fitting into that subgenre. Axel does not pass the torch to Jane or anyone else, he is front and center throughout Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F but if you have seen any of these films, the formula will not be hard to figure out. There are also some notable callbacks, mainly through musical needle drops and lines of dialogue.

However, even if we are treading familiar waters from a tonal standpoint, there are original jokes that will make you laugh and a touching father/daughter story that gives the film heart. Axel is still himself at his core, but we see sides of him that we have not before. His relationship with Jane is a major focal point and seeing them rebuild their bond while uncovering this conspiracy turns out to be cool rather than annoying. This script sells you on Murphy and Paige as father and daughter quickly and lets the actors handle the rest.

What also makes this script special is that it lets Axel be Axel and refuses to pull its punches. I would imagine that is what pulled Eddie Murphy back into the fold. This is an old school story that might be predictable, but man it will make fans feel good without being over the top with its callbacks. What audiences have here is a chance to revisit an iconic character in something that will not scream “cash grab”. This is just another Axel Foley adventure, one that is a joy to watch.

Where does the modern flair come in? Well, as much as this film feels like it was plucked out of the 80s tonally. We are very much in the present day from a visual standpoint and a lot of these shots pop more than they did in the previous installments. Director Mark Molloy and cinematographer Eduard Grau really allow you to take in the Beverly Hills setting and make this world feel more alive.

John Ashton as Chief John Taggart, Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold as Billy Rosewood in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.
(L to R) John Ashton as Chief John Taggart, Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold as Billy Rosewood in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix © 2024.)

While the action set pieces could have been a little better, Beverly Hills Cop has never been your go to for strictly balls to the wall action. There is a hilarious helicopter sequence with Murphy and Gordon-Levitt’s characters along with decent gunfights though, so not all is lost on that front.

However, this series is mostly known for its comedy and the characters, and the narrative does right by both. What you will love most is catching up with Axel, Billy Rosewood, and John Taggart. That trio has not been together since Beverly Hills Cop II in 1987 and they still have plenty of magic left in them. Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F gives all three men their own standout moments which are sure to be crowd pleasers.

Another highlight of the film is the excellent score by Lorne Balfe. Who knew that a composer could find so many ways to use Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F? Balfe uses that iconic tune so much and yet it feels fresh every single time you hear it in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. He incorporates it well while also crafting songs that are perfectly in line with what is unfolding on screen. Not only that, but his music contributes quite a lot to making this film feel plucked out of the 80s and modern at the same time. There is a danceability to this score and some tracks would not feel out of place at a club.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F was worth the wait and represents a return to form for Eddie Murphy. The script might be predictable in the same way that any number of 80s action films were, but it has charm, laughs, and understands what made this franchise beloved in the first place. Murphy is having a hell of a time playing Axel again, which will rub off on viewers. If we never see him return to this role, this is a strong note to go out on.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F will be released globally on Netflix on July 3, 2024.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Trailer (Netflix)
Thank you for reading us! If you’d like to help us continue to bring you our coverage of films and TV and keep the site completely free for everyone, please consider a donation.