Should I Watch..? 'Beverly Hills Cop III' (1994)
What's the big deal?
Beverly Hills Cop III is an action comedy film released in 1994 and is the third film in the Beverly Hills Cop series. Written by Steven E. de Souza and directed by John Landis, it features Eddie Murphy reprising once again the role of streetwise Detroit cop Axel Foley. Despite making a small profit, it is universally recognised as the worst in the series so far - in fact, the series has been on hiatus ever since although a fourth film has been stuck in development hell since the mid-90's. With Murphy distinctly off-form here and a story which never gets out of first gear, Beverly Hills Cop III is a depressing film to watch and the probable demise of the series.
What's it about?
A raid of a Detroit chop-shop by Axel Foley leads to the unfortunate death of his boss, Inspector Todd. Determined to catch the killer, Foley gives chase but is intercepted by Secret Service Agent Steve Fulbright who orders Foley to let him go as it jeopardises a bigger operation. But one thing Foley isn't great at is following orders, especially when it gets personal.
Foley's only clue is a stolen credit card taken from the Wonder World theme park in Beverly Hills so naturally, Foley returns to his old stomping ground and reunites once more with Detective Billy Rosewood. Together with Rosewood's new partner, Detective Jon Flint, Foley begins poking around the theme park and soon finds himself at odds with the park's chief of security, the respected Ellis DeWald...
What's to like?
OK, being honest, I suppose they had the right intentions. The series had certainly stalled after the fairly lazy second film so it did need bringing back up to date. So it's out with the synthesizer soundtrack and in with the R&B. It also tries to offer something different from what we'd seen before - Foley feels a lot more grown up this time around and there's no epic gun battles or car chases either. You sense that they are trying to get Foley to focus on his wits and fast-talking to get him out of trouble, which may even inject the film with a bit more humour than last time. Yes, it doesn't work but the intention was there.
Elizondo might not be John Ashton (who dropped out due to prior commitments) but he's actually not a bad addition to the cast. A pity he hasn't as much to do as Ashton did and his chemistry with Reinhold isn't as good either but performance-wise, he's more convincing as a cop than Reinhold ever was.
- As of February 2015, Eddie Murphy has stated that this is the only film in his career that he dislikes.
- Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold and Gil Hill are the only actors to appear in all three Beverley Hills Cop movies.
- The film's budget spiralled out of control, from $55 million to over $70 million. Murphy's paycheck was a whopping $15 million.
What's not to like?
Where do I begin? Jerry Bruckheimer, the co-producer on the two previous films, stays well away from this formulaic action film. There is next to no comedy in it - Murphy feels as disinterested in the film as I was which means you're relying on Judge Reinhold for laughs. That's like waiting for balanced journalism on Fox News - never gonna happen! Carhart is also a lousy villain who lacks any sort of menace or charisma whatsoever. Think of the two previous films with their organised robberies or elegant conmen - here's Foley's up against some disgruntled security guard at a theme park. Who thought we'd want to see that?
And as much as I enjoy a cameo, Landis throws so many in that you ignore what's going on in the film in order to spot them. But because these cameos come from film-makers and not actors, you'd need to be an uber-geek to spot them all. There's no zip, energy or drive anywhere to be found - it's as though they all agreed to make the movie but when the time came, realised that their hearts just weren't in it any more. Even the action scenes are pale in comparison to the earlier movies. There really is nothing to see here.
Should I watch it?
No unless you want to see what Eddie Murphy possibly looks and feels like going through a divorce. Beverly Hills Cop III is devoid of fun, excitement and thrills - the exact opposite of the electric first Beverly Hills Cop. It's a sad end to the series which has struggled to come back from this. Murphy himself has said that he doesn't want to end the series on such a low point but in truth, it's hard to see where they can go next. Foley has ran out of excuses to travel south and I've ran out of patience with a film series that never recapturing the lightening in the bottle.
Great For: insomniacs, Eddie Murphy haters, cameo-spotting film nerds, ruining reputations
Not So Great For: fans of the first two film, recommending to others, successful careers
What else should I watch?
This laboured third film is a country mile away from Beverly Hills Cop or even the first sequel in terms of laughs, thrills and excitement. And back then, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's Lethal Weapon series had overtaken Eddie Murphy in terms of noisy, violent escapism. No wonder Murphy set off looking for a new role and franchise to turn to and he found it in the voice of Donkey from Shrek.
Instead of this garbage, perhaps you'd like to invest your time in the likes of Bad Boys or Rush Hour which also maintains the fish-out-of-water element missing from Beverly Hills Cop III as well as including Jackie Chan's unbelievable physical stunt-work. Trust me, even these dumb-but-fun action cop films will be more enjoyable than this was. Actually, getting arrested for real is more enjoyable.
Steven E. de Souza *
Release Date (UK)
1st July, 1994
Razzie Award Nominations
Worst Director, Worst Rip-Off or Sequel
© 2015 Benjamin Cox