Monday, August 5, 2013

Beverly Hills Cop Retrospective: Beverly Hills Cop III

Beverly Hills Cop III
Director: John Landis
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Saxon, Hector Elizondo, Bronson Pinchot, Timothy Carhart, Theresa Randle
Rated:  R

The third movie was so attrocious...the third Beverly Hills Cop was like "We're not doing any more of these." Axel was banished from the town.
                              ~Eddie Murphy

Seven years, and this is what they deliver?  Whoof.  I dunno where to start or what to say.  This is a bad, lackluster, generic effort if I've ever seen one.  I couldn't recall much from this movie aside from Axel Foley involved in an action scene on a ferris wheel, and after I viewed it again I can see why my brain has chosen not to remember it.  This movie isn't laughably bad, its not "Eh, its better than no Beverly Hills Cop" or just the unfortunate third best in a string of good to decent movies.  This movie is just a complete waste.

The strongest suit of the entire series was Eddie Murphy.  He is the key to everything else.  You can have a weak script, but Murphy will save it.  That's not the case here with III.  According to director John Landis, Murphy wasn't keen on being outrageous and zany this time.  Landis wasn't big on the script, but like all of us, figured Eddie would save it.  Murphy approached the role more seriously this time.  He's not a wildcard in the scenes anymore.  And with what he gives, you could plug just about any actor in there and get the same result.  According to Bronson Pinchot, Eddie was apparently having self esteem issues at the time.  During their shoot, Landis sent Murphy away and stood in for Eddie to film Pinchot's portion.  The film carries just about as much energy as Eddie delivers.
The script has a great intention.  It wants to showcase Axel Foley slowing piecing together evidence to put a villain behind bars.  However, its incredibly repetitive and tiring.  Foley finds a piece of evidence, confronts bad guys, bad guys are two steps ahead, Foley gets booted, supposed to be sent away, finds a new piece.  Take that and repeat it for about an hour and 20 minutes.  The film is also obsessed with showcasing parts of Universal Studios and California's Great America theme parks.  While the movie does utilize a few things for action sets, I think they could have had much more fun with it.
Its a shame that John Ashton wasn't able to come back, his character was missed.  The first two movies were kind of a nice trio.  I understand Ronny Cox was a part of the fold, too, but the meat of the series was Foley, Rosewood and Taggart's relationship.  They do bring back Rosewood, but it's almost as if its for fan service and they don't really want him there.  This film is more of a solo Axel Foley picture.  And that assists in its suffering.  There's not enough teamwork involved and familiarity for Axel to bounce off of.
Axel Foley has been back to Beverly Hills twice since the first one and not a mention of Jenny Summers.  I haven't even read that she was even thought of to come back.  The first film spent a good deal and did a good job of selling us that they were good friend.  In fact no girl characters carry over the entire series.  And we usually just get one stock female character and that's it.  I guess II wins in this department as it had two female characters.

The film's main bad guy is a total dick.  They did a good job of making me not care for him.  I guess that's a positive I can give this movie.  They also cast vet John Saxon.  The amount of fun cameos in the film lead me to believe John Landis wanted to have fun with this movie, but he seemed to be hampered with an unwilling star.
Beverly Hills Cop III stinks.  There's no way around it.  This time, following Axel to Beverly Hills wasn't worth the trip.  In order for these films to work, you need Eddie Murphy's A-Game.  And he did not bring it this time around.  This film took too long to get off the ground (the second was a big success so it was inevitable).  By the time it came to actually making this movie, it had become a "going back to the well" film for Murphy.  The Distinguished Gentleman was considered a box office disappointment and budgetary cuts were made to Beverly Hills Cop III.  A guy who was once on top of the world was grounded and not dealing with it well.  And it shows.  Avoid this one if you're watching the series.  And let's hope a fourth is better than this.

Next Up:  Ranking...guess which one is last...

To leave you with something better than the movie I just covered, here's a related excerpt from the very best episode of the short-lived Clerks: The Animated Series

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