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‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ review: Netflix’s sequel shouldn’t work and yet… Eddie Murphy is back in action, and lucky us!

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'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F' review: Netflix's sequel shouldn't work and yet... Eddie Murphy is back in action, and lucky us!

 

Beverly Hills Cop 4 is a terrible idea on paper. Sure, the 1984 action-comedy and its sequel Beverly Hills Cop II were massive hits, proving Saturday Night Live’s Eddie Murphy had made the leap to leading man.

 

'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F' review: Netflix's sequel shouldn't work and yet... Eddie Murphy is back in action, and lucky us!

But 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III was a flop with critics and audiences, effectively knocking the franchise out of commission for 30 years. On top of that, the funny franchise’s conceit is now potentially problematic: A cocky cop solves crime while cracking rude jokes and breaking all the rules. With countless news headlines about police brutality and insensitivity, how do you bring back Axel Foley for a modern audience? Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is how.

I myself was deeply dubious about the possibility of a Beverly Hills Cop 4 being anything but groan-inducing. So, it is with great pleasure that I tell you I was wrong, and Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is outstanding. Axel still knows how to outfox crooks and land a punchline. Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F proves this efficiently with a rousing opening sequence at a hockey arena.

Sitting with a white colleague, Axel talks hockey with the irreverent jokes that play to his signature speedy patter. The difference here is that this Axel only punches up, mocking white fragility instead of employing tired stereotypes. Rather than feeling like a compromise in fear of so-called cancel culture, these jokes support the undercurrent of his journey.

Axel has always pushed back on power structures, be it wealthy white men who felt they were above the law or police commissioners who felt public relations was more important than public safety. So it makes sense that as he grows older, his humor grows toward bolstering this previously established ideology.

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