Film discussion

Throwback 30: Beverly Hills Cop II

As it turns thirty, Kelechi Ehenulo takes a look back at whip smart action sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II...

Sometimes sequels never live up to the original. As much as Beverly Hills Cop II echoes that sentiment, the late, great director Tony Scott delivers a film that encapsulates the pinnacle of 80s films in terms of culture, style, fashion and action.

It’s a film that doesn’t get enough credit. Running at a swift one hour and forty-two minutes, Beverly Hills Cop II utilises the same energetic pacing and slick visuals from Tony Scott’s previous film Top Gun. The gritty undertones are dialled down for a glossy, sun-kissed palette and when you add Harold Faltermeyer’s addictive soundtrack to the mix, it completes the highly stylised package.

There’s no denying the talent of Eddie Murphy with his uncanny ability to blur between the lines of script and improvisation; his sharp, wisecracking wit and infectious laugh as Axel Foley is always a scream and Beverly Hills Cop II provides that perfect vehicle to showcase it once again. The transformation of Foley’s re-introduction is an interesting contrast between the first and second film.

The first film highlights the downside of the economy and poverty in Detroit in comparison to the sequel where Foley wears a fancy suit and drives a sports car as a representative sign of recovery from the city. The aesthetic circumstances of Foley’s life may have changed but Murphy still guarantees that Foley’s character remains the same.

But the increased laughter doesn’t take away from the seriousness the film proposes.  Once again, it treads on a personal matter when Foley’s friend Andrew Bogomill is seriously wounded. It immediately prompts him back into familiar territory by investigating the “Alphabet Crimes” – a series of precise, time based robberies in which a symbolised letter is left in the aftermath of the crime scene. Foley’s street smarts and powers of persuasion are tested again but in a different context.

Beverly Hills Cop II taps into the conflicting changes of the police force. Foley, reuniting with Rosewood and Taggart, battle a politicised police department in the form of Chief Harold Lutz, a duplicitous character interested only in his own reputation and public image but verbally abusive towards his police officers. Through the level of incompetence and the narrow-minded avenues, Foley and his “buddy cop” friends go undercover to actively connect the dots between Bogomill’s shooting and the organised heists.

Tony Scott’s ability to build suspense and tension is key to the enjoyment of the film.  The opening scene sets the tone where it masks its intentions and presents a re-arranged assumption. Brigitte Nielsen’s Karla Fry showcases the duality in appearance of a high powered and successful woman and the aggressive intimidation of being the enforcer and time keeper of the operation for her boss Maxwell Dent. It’s a subtle effect which creates a disruptive chaos to the crimes leaving the victims in a state of blurred shock.

Yet Beverly Hills Cop II can’t escape its lack of originality, which is a shame. Like a lot of sequels they rely on familiarity by copying what was done before but with a larger canvas, scope and more destruction. When the original set such a high standard, replicating its success was always going to be a tough challenge.

What is evidently clear is that they don’t make films like this anymore. Beverly Hills Cop II never forgets the entertaining and exaggerated level of fun that it brings. Because of its tone, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the one person who keeps the whole thing together is Eddie Murphy with an all round performance. With his jokes, you can’t help but laugh along with him.

Are you a fan of Beverly Hills Cop II? Let us know!

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