Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

“Before I go, I just want you two to know something, alright? The supercop story… was working. Okay? It was working, and you guys just messed it up. Okay? I’m trying to figure you guys out, but I haven’t yet. But it’s cool. You fuck up a perfectly good lie.”

‘Beverly Hills Cop’, directed by Martin Brest in 1984, is an American action comedy starring Eddie Murphy. Murphy plays Axel Foley, a Detroit police officer who fails to operate by the rules. When his friend is murdered and the trail of his killers leads west, Foley travels to California and the genteel and opulent Beverly Hills, where he becomes embroiled in a local drug smuggling operation and is harassed by the local police. It’s a film full of energy, style, and with an enigmatic central performance by Murphy, a stand-up comedian who adjusts to the role of action star without any sense of transitioning. Foley is foul-mouthed, fast talking and completely at odds with both the wealthy villains and the uptight Californian cops, and this conflict is the key the success, and the distinctiveness of the film. It’s a concept that is later stretched and sanitised by the sitcom ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’, but here it is balanced by a surprisingly gritty and, occasionally, insightful sense of social reality. Beyond the performances, the semi-improvised dialogue and the energetic gunfights, the surface details of this film are also an important factor. The electronic soundtrack for example, performed by performed by Harold Faltermeyer, was a massive independent success at the time and is a key part of the movie’s identity. Somehow, this film seems insulated against the traditional hard-body action films of the time, featuring actors such as Stallone and Schwarzenegger. One reason for this is that it has dated well, but Murphy’s approach and distinctive, laid-back charisma prevents  ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ from being just another reflection of Ronald Reagan’s muscular foreign policies.

Would I recommend it? I grew up on ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, from a time when the only version I had was a censored television recording. I’d definitely suggest watching it, but make sure you get the full sweary version.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Turlough says:

    LA being ‘gentile and opulent’ was a Freudian slip?


    1. mattbarberuk says:

      Nope – just incompetence.


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