Eddie Murphy maybe a complete hack today, but when he came out with this film, he was one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. This action flick has aged, sure, but man it’s quite a cool rideAxel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a tough Detroit City Cop who just can’t stay out of trouble. When his friend Mickey (James Russo) is suddenly killed in a hit right in front of his eyes, Foley excuses himself via a vacation and goes to Beverly Hills to trace the bad guys that killed him. In order not to cause further shit, Lt. Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox) assigns two cops, Det. Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Sgt John Taggart (John Ashton) to keep and eye on Foley only to end up as unwilling partners in Foley’s quest to uncover his friend’s killers. Foley checks on friend and art seller Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher) and realizes that Mickey used to work via Jenny’s boss Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff) on some pretty bad shit which includes drug trafficking.
The plot is formula now, especially with the whole “Fish out of water” thing, and the usual stereotypes of idiotic white bread cops who can’t solve a damn thing. But what makes it really good is the balancing of some pretty violent action scenes with Murphy’s reckless humor and foul language. I guess it makes a much bigger effect since Foley is the tough, smart-ass cop who’s visiting the whole glamour and snobby shit of Beverly Hills, and showing the two asshole cops that are watching him a thing or two about being a smartass. The thing is though, that you can laugh with it, with director Martin Brest effectively blending both action and comedy very well. You want a worse example? Try the utter shit that is Blue Streak. The action scenes are very well staged and effective, especially the unforgettable opening act as the trailer truck wreaks havoc with everything it finds on its way while Murphy hangs on for his life in the back of the trailer, as well as the shootout on Maitland’s mansion.
The music is all 80’s nostalgia shit, notably the Glen Frey classic “The heat is on” and Harold Faltermeyer’s synthesizer-driven hit “Axel F.”
Murphy is on top of his game as Axel Foley and another signature role for him which proved at least at that time that he could do action as well as comedy and both a the same time. Reinhold as always is crap but watchable while John Ashton makes the better of it. A notable performance is Jonathan Banks as Maitland’s thug Zack, now that guy was a bad-ass motherfucker.Nowadays, it’s pretty much an 80’s staple, but a very good one nevertheless, the backlash of it all is that the suits at Paramount had to release 2 sequels that ended up being worse than the original. Still, worth a view at least once for laughs and thrills. 4-5