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Classic Movie Review: 'Beverly Hills Cop 3' Starring Eddie Murphy

30 years later, Beverly Hills Cop 3 is still a waste of screen space.

By Sean PatrickPublished 24 days ago 5 min read

Beverly Hills Cop 3 (1994)

Directed by John Landis

Written by Steven E. de Souza

Starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Hector Elizondo, John Saxon, Theresa Randle

Release Date May 25th, 1994

Published May 29th, 2024

Screenwriting 101: if you want to establish that your character is heroic, show them doing something heroic. For instance, in the movie Beverly Hills Cop 3, Eddie Murphy hops aboard the Spider ride at Wonder World. The baddies want the ride stopped so they can snatch Eddie off of the ride. As they fight with the ride operator, the ride gets turned up to 11 and the machinery of the ride starts to break down. This causes one of the gondolas on the Spider ride, one carrying two young children, to come loose and begin to break off.

Not missing a beat, our hero, Axl Foley (Eddie Murphy), leaps into action. Risking his own life, Axl climbs out of his gondola and begins leaping to the tops of other gondolas. As this happens, the ride begins to move again, nearly causing Axl to fall to his death. As Axl is climbing his way toward the broken gondola, after finding a conveniently placed length of rope, the ride stops and the chain holding the broken gondola begins to break further. Axl uses the rope to lower himself down to the door of the gondola. He pulls the kids out of the broken ride and, as he's climbing down the rope, the broken gondola finally breaks and begins to fall. Axl reaches the ground and narrowly gets himself and the kids to safety just as the gondola drops.

The scene establishes that our protagonist is a selfless hero, a man willing to risk his life to save innocent children. Here's the problem though, this is Beverly Hills Cop 3. Two previous movies have already established that Axel Foley is a hero. We've seen Axel Foley perform heroic acts as a police officer in both Detroit and Beverly Hills in two different movies. Thus, spending a 7-to-8-minute scene re-establishing Axel's heroic nature is a gigantic waste of screen time. Sure, there's a chance that some of the audience hasn't seen the previous two Beverly Hills Cop movies before, they may not be aware of Axel's heroism. But they are seeing a movie called Beverly Hills Cop 3, they are probably aware that the main character of this third movie in a franchise is a hero in the movie they are watching.

Bottom line, this scene is a gigantic waste of time. It's a bit of business and a not a particularly interesting one. There is no chance in hell that either Axel or the two children he's saving in this scenario, happening in the early portion of the second act, are going to die. We have no reason to worry or be tense about this moment. During this entire scene, Beverly Hills Cop 3 is spinning its wheels, it's going nowhere. We are watching a tension free action scene that has nothing to do with the plot of the movie. In fact, the movie has to place the plot on hold just to carry out this scene. The scene is deathless in length and since the outcome is assured, we have zero reason to be invested in this scenario.

The scene I just described is a perfect microcosm of Beverly Hills Cop 3, a movie that is constantly spinning its wheels and going nowhere. It's clear from frame one to frame last that no one involved wanted to be part of this movie. Subsequently, we've learned from director John Landis and supporting actor Bronson Pinchot, that Eddie Murphy was completely checked out and had no interest in making the movie. According to both, a scene where Pinchot's character, Serge, delivers a comic monologue had to be played opposite John Landis standing in for Eddie Murphy, because Murphy could not be bothered to leave his trailer to do coverage or be there for his co-star.

In fairness to Eddie, this monologue is entirely devoid of laughs and while it serves the purpose of introducing a weapon that Eddie will use later in the film, the weapon is a gag and not a very funny one. The weapon in question is used not in the final showdown of the movie, but as a brief, needless side quest where it malfunctions and then over-performs the task of taking out a random henchman. The gag is that the gun has a lot of needless features like a microwave, a net that fails its function, and a radio that gets turned on. The song on the radio is meant to be a punchline but the song is so generic and forgettable that the joke doesn't land.

Can I go now?

The plot of Beverly Hills Cop 3 is not important. The movie reflects this by barely mentioning the plot. A vehicle gets stolen in Detroit and cut to Axel in Beverly Hills going to see his friend Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold). What made Axel go to L.A? The movie doesn't bother to tell us. It's fair to assume he was going there just from the title, but, at the very least, each of the previous movies gave Axel a reason to go to Beverly Hills via some sort of established link in the case he's investigating in Detroit. Beverly Hills Cop 3 is so lazy that the editor appears to have thrown up their hands and just cut to Axel in Beverly Hills and, oh by the way, the bad guys are here also.

I don't need to over-egg the recipe here; Beverly Hills Cop 3 is a terrible movie. The only interesting aspect of the movie, for me, is related to a piece of backstage gossip. Apparently, Eddie Murphy and John Landis had a severe falling out during the making of the movie. On IMDB, they cite an interview in which Eddie Murphy said that he would work with John Landis again as soon as Vic Morrow works with John Landis again. If you know, you know, that is a dark joke and a truly sick burn You can follow this link to understand the context of that cutting insult.

Beverly Hills Cop 3 is the subject of the newest edition of the I Hate Critics 1994 Podcast, a spinoff of the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. Each week, I subject Gen-Z'er M.J and Gen X'er Amy, to a movie that was released in theaters 30 years ago that week. The goal is to examine how movies and popular culture have changed in just the last 30 years. You can listen to the I Hate Critics 1994 Podcast on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast feed wherever you listen to podcasts. If you're wondering whether Amy, M.J, and I are aware of Beverly Hills Cop 4 coming to Netflix this summer? Yes, and we are significantly unexcited about it.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!


About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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