‘Who do you think you are, Clint Eastwood? Dirty Rosewood?‘
After recently returning to Beverly Hills Cop for the first time since I was a kid, I was a little reticent to revisit the sequels. I know the third instalment was particularly poorly received, and I couldn’t remember much about the second film in the franchise either. Nevertheless, I bravely decided to jump in anyway, and it turns out that Beverly Hills Cop II is just as much fun as the original…
Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is back in Beverly Hills after a series of violent bank robberies. Also returning, of course, are Foley’s trusted lieutenants Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton). Happily, Paul Reiser also returns as Jeffrey, Axel’s man back in Detroit, as does the inimitable Gilbert R. Hill as Foley’s constantly furious police chief Inspector Todd. On the wrong side of the law this time we have formidable criminal mastermind Karla Fry (Brigitte Nielsen) and sketchy European businessman Maxwell Dent (Jürgen Prochnow).
Beverly Hills Cop II follows the rule of the sequel. It loses some of what made the original so special, but it has more of everything else. More car chases, more explosions, more wisecracks. And sure, not all of it pays off, we perhaps don’t need cameos from Chris Rock, Gilbert Gottfried AND Hugh Hefner, but it all adds to the wacky sense of fun imbued by director Tony Scott, screenwriters Larry Ferguson and Warren Skaaren, and infamous production team Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Put short, being released in 1987 means that this killer sequel was released right in the sweet spot of ’80s action movies, and while it doesn’t always take itself too seriously, it takes itself just seriously enough to remain compelling throughout. The advent of the ’90s and the internet brought with it the age of irony, something that killed this genre dead, but the original movies remain available and they are as joyous as ever. Obviously, I’m now going to watch the third one, despite its reputation, but nothing can take away from the sheer exuberance of the first two movies. It helps that Murphy is on top form, but the supporting cast brings more to the table this time round, this is far from just an Eddie Murphy vehicle.
Throw Beverly Hills Cop II in with Die Hard 2 and Lethal Weapon 2. They’re all great movies. And if you can’t find joy in Judge Reinhold blowing up a truck with a bazooka, then what’s the point in anything?