Friday, August 2, 2013

Beverly Hills Cop Retrospective: Beverly HIlls Cop II

Beverly Hills Cop II
Director: Tony Scott
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Brigitte Nielsen, Dean Stockwell, Jurgen Prochnow, Ronny Cox, Paul Reiser
Sponsored By: Playboy
Rated: R

Fuck Rambo!
      ~Sergeant Taggart

The second Axel Foley adventure falls into that sequel trope of being "more of the same".  A lot of times back in the day, if you got a sequel, you just got the same movie repackaged.  I'm not saying its an exact remake, but all the beats are the same and very little progresses.  Its an entertaining movie no doubt, but there's nothing here that really needed to be explored.

The film has a very weak first act.  Everything is a plot of convenience and pretty hokey to have things set up.  We catch Axel Foley in basically the same situation we were introduced to him in the previous film.  And what gets him back to Beverly Hills is essentially the same circumstances in which he went in the first one.  Also, given the guise with which he takes the trip, he's right back at square one with his own police office and the Beverly Hills one.  Also, the minute Ronny Cox's Capt Bogomil is introduced, you know exactly where his character is going.  The absurdity is only cemented by an absolutely pointless call he makes to Foley before he meets his fate.  Its a very fast paced set up making it all really hokey, convenient and goofy as it plays out.  But, its what this film needs to set up, so we gotta shrug and just move on.
Once again, we basically have Foley dropped into a criminal plot of a generic 80s action film (one that thinks its smarter than it is).  Everything would be forgettable if it wasn't for Eddie Murphy and that's what makes it more special.  But, I guess that's kind of what this series does.  So that's no strike against it.  He's once again at the top of his game and able to just own the screen.  Murphy became a massive star after the first film.  Paramount's prime directive was to spin that into a television series with Eddie Murphy reprising Foley, but the leading man said he was done with TV and sequel was optioned.  The movie itself was another big box office success, despite mixed reviews.

This movie had some big points that reminded me of A View To A Kill a bit.  There's a bit with horse racing that is familiar.  Most of it I guess is that henchwoman Brigitte Nielsen's Karla being an obvious knock off of Grace Jones' May Day.  Both are the main squeeze of the big bad, larger than life women that run heist operations, wear crazy array of sexy and stealthy outfits, fire big guns, kick ass and speak few words.  While I'd rather take 80s Brigitte on a date, May Day through and through is the cooler character.
Speaking of Brigitte, there's a lot of Stallone jokes to go around.  Aside from her being his wife at this time, there's an addition of somewhat of a love fest Rosewood has with him.  In some of the only character progression and development in this film, we are let in a bit on who Rosewood outside of work.  He is apparently a weapons nut idolizing Sly.  He's got not only a Rambo: First Blood Part II poster on his wall, but a COBRA!!!!!!!!!!!! poster as well.  The producers surely were in on some of the behind the scenes fun with the first film here.  Judge Reinhold plays it great too.  As a weird guy already, he embellishes in playing the character quirky but straight, never going over the top to get it across.
Martin Brest did not return to direct.  Instead, hot off another Jerry Bruckheimer production (Top Gun), came Tony Scott.  The difference in aesthetic is very noticeable as this is very much a Tony Scott film.  Its shot in 2.35:1 for starters.  Plus inside every building is that "smokey room" thing he brought to everything.  The film is also more action heavy and flashy.  Everything is up'd a notch which is very common of the "more of the same" sequels of the day.  Machine guns last time in the finale?  We've got rocket launchers this time!  Foley drives a beater in the first one?  Here's a sports car.  A hoodie to accompany his SAME high school t-shirt?  We've got a Detroit Lions letter jacket for him to sport.  And Axel is also never fully dressed down in this film.  When in Detroit he's wearing fancy suits and such.  Lisa Eilbacher's small, homely Jenny Summers replaced by a larger than life exotic fashion model.  Its a flashier, more expensive looking version of the first film.  Whereas the first film was a more personal, character based crime drama, this is a big budget summer popcorn movie.  That's how sequels tended to work in the 80s.  Same thing but bigger.  Even the theme is spruced up and more poppy.  And for this movie it seems to work out ok.
I really did like the cast in this one a bit.  Paul Reiser is given more to do this time around rather than just be a cameo at the beginning.  Aside from the returning players, the additions are quite fun with Brigitte Nielsen, Jurgen Prochnow, Dean Stockwell and cameos from Gilbert Gottfried and Chris Rock.  Just a bit more engaging and attention commanding actors in the villain roles.
The second film in the Beverly Hills Cop series is flashier but ultimately stays at home with where its comfortable.  Everything you liked in the first one is brought back here.  And in a rare circumstance, it does work.  Aside from going bigger the series narrative doesn't really move a whole lot by the end.  Its got a rough first act and finishes quite over the top.  It still manages to be really entertaining, but the film doesn't really do a whole lot aside from feel like a bigger budgeted remake.  It falls short of the first one's greatness, but that film was something very special.  The film's ok, but the formula is a bit tired by the end of it.

Next Time: Axel takes a 3rd trip to Beverly Hills

No comments:

Post a Comment