Wisecracking and quick-witted Axel Foley rode a wave of 80s synthesised pop hits and subduing bad guys into cultural dominance. But the Beverly Hills Cop franchise could only repeat the same formula for so long, times change, actors and audiences mature, and paradoxically changes may need to be sought to rekindle the magic. In 1994, after previously hanging up the letterman jacket, Foley returned, but the new decade brought with it some new changes in Beverly Cops 3.
After previously assisting the Beverly Hills police department twice, we join Axel on an undercover operation in Detroit. It goes awry when his boss, Inspector Todd gets shot, not before the lead suspect in the investigation gets clocked. Said lead suspect, is one Ellis DeWald, who just so happens to run security at a major theme park, Wonderworld, in the Beverly Hill area. Giving Foley a chance to catch up with his old buddy Rosewood. L.A. has changed, and Foley must put his wits and skills to the test. As his case takes him deep into the heart of Wonderworld, this murder and counterfeiting operation has gone straight through the looking glass.
Axel Foley could only be the quick-witted rookie for so long, and Eddie Murphy wanted the character to show some maturity and has been reworked, to accommodate this. He is not alone, and the film finds fun in showing us how the character from the old films have evolved since their previous appearance. Rosewood has landed a promotion, and new responsibilities in the increasing technocratic bureaucracy, and has a new partner in Jon Flint, while I would have liked to have seen John Ashton’s Taggart return, Hector Elizondo does a good job. New additions are ample with the romantic subplot between Foley and Janice Perkins played well by Theresa Randle. Along with Alan Young as Uncle Dave Thornton in a Walt Disney stand-in. Out of the criminal elements of the three films, I would argue that DeWald is the most memorable, proving to be quite a cerebral match for the detective.
With Landis taking over from the iconic Tony Scott, his vision brings with it some tangible changes. For instance, the action has been reworked to involve fewer car chases and more mission impossible style stunts. But it is overall changes in the tone of the film that are the most drastic. With cute cameos from characters and props from the first films, along with the park boasting cameos from those in the film world too. As such, a greater focus is placed on the satiric elements with a notable scene at a gun convention feeling like it could have been in the Robocop franchise.
Satire and other novel concepts rear their head into the winning formula, and it might be to the film’s credit. Sure, die-hard fans may be less accustomed to the dramatic differences but will be assured that Beverly Hills Cop 3 still delivers on the core conceit of a street-savvy cop using intellects and action to deliver justice to nefarious criminals, while managing to explore this concept in new ways. Beverly Hills Cop 3 is inspirational in allowing talented creatives to bring new ideas to a property that was in danger of growing stale. Foley’s foray into Wonderworld may be just the ticket the Detroit detective was looking for.
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