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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Retro Review: Beverly Hills Cop 3 (1994)

Beverly Hills Cop 3
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Timothy Carhart, Hector Elizondo, Theresa Randle 
Genre: Action Comedy 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $119 million 

Plot: A hip detective from Detroit tracks down a crime ring to a Los Angeles theme park called WonderWorld 

'Third Time Not A Charm For Beverly Hills Cop III'

Beverly Hills Cop III was the third outing in the series for Eddie Murphy, following on his 1980s prequels, Beverly Hills Cop I and Beverly Hills Cop II as Detroit's finest, wisecracker Axel Foley. This film did rather well at the box office, but the reaction has been rather mixed, with most people considering it to be mediocre and not up to par with the first two films. I have noticed that Eddie as Axel is not like how he used to be, in terms of his mannerisms and he has toned down the motormouth antics. He is also a tad older and not as street-wise as he was, before. Yet I still liked it. 

When I watched this film as a teen, I really enjoyed it but looking back at it now, it does seem to be cringing in places and it feels less of a Beverly Hills Cop film and more of an Eddie Murphy comedic vehicle. And that has to do with the direction by John Landis, who directed Trading Places and Coming to America with Eddie, as well as replacing Tony Scott in the director's chair. Scott made the previous film feel more like a proper action film with hints of comedy and the first movie was class. In the 1987 offering, the comedy was never really that big of an aspect, and because of that, you saw more action, more gunplay, more dramatic acting, serious antagonists and Axel, despite his easy-going manner, still kicked ass.

Whereas with Beverly Hills Cop III, well, I still say I don't hate it; but the level of quality that was in the other 2 movies, which were sustainable throughout from beginning to end, just wasn't there with this third film. The main plot of the third film takes place, oddly enough, in a children's amusement park - a far cry from the armed robberies and murders on the streets of West Los Angeles in the other films. 

The score by Nile Rogers isn't very good, in fact, it sounded so painful, especially the revised Beverly Hills Cop theme that sounds more orchestral than the hip, iconic, '80s electro sound of Harold Faltermayer.

John Landis and Eddie, as well as the remaining cast members, knew they were working with a weak script. Co-star Bronson Pinchot who played Serge in the film also stated that Eddie was visibly depressed at the state of his career at this point. No John Ashton as Detective Taggart; instead he is replaced by another senior cop, Flynn with a far less interesting persona and who seems out of place. I didn't see the need for that character; he was just an excuse to have a new older, experienced detective to aid Billy Rosewood and Axel Foley and he doesn't work so well, alongside that pairing. Judge Reinhold, in contrast, sees his role minimised and his character is just not the same as he was before. Serge is a camp, European version of James Bond's Q with the gadgets and guns he makes; I too thought he was a needless character who added nothing to the story.

Under John Landis's direction, it appears that he was trying to bridge some of that comical magic from Trading Places with the action, but instead, it makes the film look corny and absurd. The scene where they show off with the weapons and gadgets could have been cool - yet, the way that is conceived is too jokey and comes off like an episode from the home shopping network. Beverly Hills Cop III has the feel and tone of the 1982 comedy, all right, yet none of the similarity or reverence of the previous Beverly Hills Cop films. Steven DeSouza is usually good at writing action films, but here and Streetfighter, the script is both flawed and too cheesy in places.

What is even more lacking and is noticeably absent is that distinction between Axel's streetwise approach and the more robust, do- it- by- the- book cops. His efforts in blagging his way through certain situations and in relying on his motormouth are gone, in place of antics that seem corny such as dancing to impress the children with that overbearing 'Wonder World' theme song blaring out, as he evades, as well as get hold of the bad guys.

The film is entertaining in places, but the characters reactions, behaviours at times feel so forced and typical, rather than genuine and the overall tone of Beverly Hills Cop 3 evokes seems off. The villains are as mediocre, throwaway and bland as the ones in Lethal Weapon 3; the main guy Ellis Dewald comes off looking like a stock character and he just wasn't dangerous or gritty enough. The film does seem to get overrun with bad guys that I sometimes end up feeling Axel needs more help in dealing with them.

The amusement park setting for an R-rated film is somewhat strange and generally, it evokes a family-friendly tone, but the other Beverly Hills Cop films were more adult-oriented with profanity and stronger violence - which not only upped the tension, as an action film these gave the films themselves more to work with.

And the script is mediocre; however, Beverly Hills Cop 3 is still watchable for me.

Final Verdict:

John Landis has directed some good films in the 1980s, but during the 1990s his slump began with this effort; he was not the right fit for this film, and his style just doesn't cut it for the Beverly Hills Cop franchise in general. His forte is not action-comedy.

Beverly Hills Cop 3 is not as good as the first two films and without the recklessness, edge and Axel's streetwise know-how and mentality that he had before, it's just a shadow of what it used to be. Nevertheless, the film remained entertaining, watchable and as a standalone, individual action comedy film of its own right, it's good, but not fantastic.

There is less action, chases, thrills and tension and in its place, we have a lot of corny gags, at times stale comedy and a style from Landis that renders the third Beverly Hills Cop outing as a comedy, making this offering unbalanced. 


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