Seven years after Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) went to Beverly Hills, he headed back one last time when his boss, Todd (Gilbert R. Hill) is killed, and the evidence leads to a theme park in California, WonderWorld.
John Landis takes over directorial duties, having worked with Murphy before, and puts him up against Timothy Carhart, who has a knack for playing slimy baddies.
But, Murphy is definitely lacking the zest, and arguably the confidence that made Axel so iconic in the precious films. It’s almost as if he is trying too hard (or not hard enough), and it just stumbles because of it. Well that, and the fact that there isn’t quite a balance between the action and the comedy.
It also lacks a kick-ass soundtrack that both of the earlier films had. They should have gone completely retro with the music. That’s just me. And whether the fault of the film’s performance lays with Landis or Murphy, the film sadly lacks a joie d’vivre. The film is missing Ronny Cox and John Ashton and Judge Reinhold’s Billy seems to suffer from the lack of balance that affects the rest of the film.
The film does boast a solid supporting cast, John Saxon, Theresa Randle, Hector Elizondo, Stephen McHattie and Bronson Pinchot, along with a number of blink and miss them cameos of behind the camera personalities.
The chop shops of Detroit lead to the camp of WonderWorld (a riff on Disney) – bypassing the perceived glitz of California, and specifically, the titular Beverly Hills. That was always a big part of the first two films, seeing the contrast between two parts of the same country.
The plot hinges on a counterfeiting ring that is operating out of the theme park, and just happened to kill the wrong cop, enter Foley. While the previous two films had some outrageous and outlandish moments, always culminating in big shootouts and larger than life action sequences, BHCIII seems to leap right to the outlandish instead of building on the basics of police work like the first films did.
But Murphy lacks the dazzle of his earlier performances, and seems to be struggling to reclaim it here, and seems to lack real chemistry with Randle, making their romantic potential seem forced. He may have been struggling with the string of stumbles he’d had at the box office lately, or it may have been the friction he had with Landis, but either way, the film struggles and lacks the sparkle of the first two films.
Or it could just be a really bad script that wasn’t ready to go before the camera.
Axel Foley is still a great character, and would I like to see Murphy bring him back one more time in a really smart, really funny, really action-packed send off? You’d better believe it.
Foley now would be a combination of nostalgia and edginess and it would be fantastic.