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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FILM REVIEW OF ''BEVERLY HILLS COP 3" (1994)

This uninspired sequel about a counterfeit ring operating in a Walt Disney look-alike amusement park qualifies as the least entertaining entry in the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise. After producing "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Beverly Hills Cop 2," Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer had nothing to do with this pathetic Paramount release that unimaginatively drags Detroit Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy of "48 HRS") back to California for the third time. You can tell when a franchise has run
out of momentum because it starts knocking off its own characters. Further, neither Taggart (John Ashton of the first two "Beverly Hills Cop" movies) nor Capt. Bogamill (Ronny Cox of the first two Beverly Hills Cop" movies) return. Nothing is ever said about Bogamill's absence, but we're told that Taggart has retired. (Actually, in the Special Features on the DVD release, a producer mentions that John Austin was not available so his character had to be replaced.) Nevertheless, nobody replaces Captain Bogamill, but franchise newcomer Hector Elizondo appears as John Ashton's replacement. Let's not forget Paul Reiser's character Detective Jeffrey Friedman who is conspicuous by his absence. Not even witty Bronson Pinchot can rekindle the magic with his English-language challenged foreigner, Serge, who no longer works at an art gallery, has concocted what he refers to as a firearms boutique.

Sadly, this is one sequel that shouldn't have been made. Although the stunt work is exemplary in the Spider Ride park scene, the recurring firefights between our hero and the trigger happy villains conjure up neither suspense nor tension. "Beverly Hills Cop 3" (*1/2 out of ****) recycles one of the most deplorable movie clich├ęs. Specifically, the well-armed villains cannot hit the side of a barn with their machine guns. Axel's one-liners and the dialogue are both forgettable. Murphy doesn't field many laughs and looks pretty idiotic wandering around in an elephant costume. In all fairness to the filmmakers, at least they did not have another foreign villain with a heavy accent like they had in the first two entries.

"Animal House" helmer John Landis doesn't let the derivative action bog down in complications, but the contrived Steven E. de Souza screenplay yields few surprises. Axel doesn't suffer any setbacks on the scale that he did in the first two outings. Simply said, Landis and Souza develop few things that haven't done before with greater polish. It is interesting to note the change in settings where Axel is concerned during his time off. In "Beverly Hills Cop," he stayed in the Beverly Palms. In the sequel, he hung out at an plush house with a pool. In "Beverly Hills Cop 3," he has a room at the Sunset Motel. The only exciting scene occurs early in the action when the bad guys riddle the sports car that Axel appropriates when he chases them through the streets. The multitude of bullets that the ruffians pour into Axel's car wind up dismantling it piecemeal until it falls apart. Director John Bonito would borrow this gag for his 2006 thriller "The Marine" with wrestling sensation John Cena. Worse, Axel seems to have lost his ability to clown around with everybody as he did in the first two. Murphy grins a lot but nothing he does boasts a glimmer of spontaneity. Meanwhile, this abysmal second sequel looks like utter hack work.

Meanwhile "Innocent Blood" lenser Mac Ahlberg doesn't make the shoot'em up scenes look cool like they were in the original and the first sequel. Despite the profane language, this ignominious R-rated crime thriller qualifies as a by-the-numbers, cookie cutter actioneer. Clearly, the franchise had lost its agility by this time that Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer had shed themselves of it, and nothing Murphy does resuscitates it. While he is investigating the chief villain, Ellis De Wald (Timothy Carhart of "Thelma & Louise"), Axel flirts with Janice (Theresa Randle of "Junge Fever") who works for everybody's favorite uncle, Uncle Dave Thornton (Alan Young of TV's "Mr. Ed") who cannot figure out what is happening in his theme park.

"Beverly Hills Cop 3" resembles the original only in the narrative respect that our protagonist leaves Detroit and heads back to Beverly Hills to arrest the cold-blooded murderer that shot his boss, Inspector Douglas Todd (Gilbert R. Hill of "Beverly Hills Cop"), three times during a Tuesday morning raid on an auto chop-shop in the Motor City. (Incidentally, there is a flaw here because when Axel confronts Ellis DeWald in Wonder World, he accuses DeWald of shooting Todd on a weekend.)The complication here is that Axel goes into the operation with the idea that the mechanics won't be armed with machine guns, so he doesn't summon S.W.A.T. for back-up. While Axel is justifying his decision to Todd, De Wald and his machine gun wielding gunmen shoot up the garage, killing all the chop shop personnel so De Wald can get a Ford delivery van filled with U.S. Government stamped boxes. Once Axel enters Wonder World, the film degenerates into claustrophobic mediocrity. The scene when Axel brandishes the Annihilator 2000 gun is one of the worst. Of course, our hero cannot get the elaborate firearm with a CD-player and other gadgets work properly when he faces down a couple of villains with machine guns. Timothy Carhart makes a smug enough villain, but he never really poses a real threat to Axel. Incidentally, Landis indulges himself by inserting Hollywood directors in cameos throughout his movies. If you look closely, you will spot George Lucas, John Singleton, Joe Dante, Barbet Schroeder, Peter Medak, Arthur Hiller, George Schaefer and Martha Coolidge in some of the scenes. Sadly, the third time is not the charm for either the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise or Landis and Murphy who teamed up again after "Trading Places" and "Coming to America."

Eddie Murphy has gone on the record and called "Beverly Hills Cop 3" "ill-fated." What more do you need to know???