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‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F,’ ‘Maverick,’ And The Return Of The Reagan ’80s

Last Updated 2 weeks by Amnon J. Jobi | Amnon Front Page

Eddie Murphy and Tom Cruise have more in common than you think.

Both became superstars in the 1980s and haven’t left the A-list since. Each is in his early 60s (Cruise is 62, Murphy is 63) but looks much younger.

They also resurrected their classic ‘80s films for a new audience with grand results.

Murphy’s “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” isn’t the revelation that Cruise’s 2022 smash “Top Gun: Maverick” proved. Plus, the former debuted on Netflix, not in theaters nationwide.

Still, both films brought back that Reagan-era feeling while telling stories worth a fresh look. Neither apologizes for the past. Instead, they celebrate it.

Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix. Copyright 2024. Netflix, Inc. Copyright 2024“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F”. Eddie Murphy, John Ashton, and Judge Reinhold.

Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix. Copyright 2024. Netflix, Inc.

It’s been 30 years since Axel Foley walked the beat. “Beverly Hills Cop 3” unofficially ended the franchise and good riddance. The formula was played out by then, and Murphy’s outsized talents deserved better.

Murphy wouldn’t let the character go, even mulling a TV incarnation with a younger star taking the reins as Axel’s son (Murphy would appear in the first episode and potentially pop up now and again).

He finally re-teamed with his old producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, for “Axel F.” Except we’ve been here before.

The 2021 Prime Video original “Coming 2 America” followed up on the actor’s other ‘80s comedy smash. The sequel packed little of “Coming to America’s” magic, swapping woke bromides for Murphy-sized guffaws.

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Hard pass.

So a new “Beverly Hills Cop” project aroused more than just suspicion. Try desperation.

“Maverick” proved you can‘t ground a talent like Cruise. The same holds true for Murphy who knows Axel remains his signature role.

Screenwriters Will Beall, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten concocted an excuse to lure Axel back to Beverly Hills where the cop is no longer a fish-out-of-water. His grown daughter Jane (Taylour Paige, excellent) is in trouble. She’s defending a young Latino man charged with killing a cop, but she suspects he’s innocent

That reveals another round of “Dirty Cop 101” along with an unctuous detective played by Kevin Bacon.

Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix. Copyright 2024. Netflix, Inc. Copyright 2024“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F”. Eddie Murphy, Kevin Bacon, John Ashton.

Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix. Copyright 2024. Netflix, Inc.

Why does “Axel F” follow in the grand “Maverick” tradition?

For starters, neither bows to the woke mob. “Maverick” played it straight down the middle, avoiding the culture wars entirely. “Axel F” acknowledges the story exists in 2024 but it plays out sans lectures or gags that take you out of the moment.

When Axel teases a white cop on a racially-charged gag, his smile tells us he isn’t serious. It’s all in good fun.

Even Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, a more sensitive cop for our times who briefly tells Axel his style no longer plays in today’s culture, learns that old-school approach gets results.

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Both films understand why we cared about the main characters in the first place. Maverick may not play by the rules, but his spine is stiff and his moral compass points true north. Axel can talk his way out of any jam, and his police improvisations would make MacGyver blush.

It’s all about collaring the bad guys.

Neither “Maverick” nor “Axel F” deify our heroes. Cruise’s Maverick remains a hot head, and his romantic stumbles aren’t lost on his new love interest, Penny (Jennifer Connelly). Axel’s estranged relationship with his daughter didn’t happen accidentally. He’s a great cop and a misguided parent. He couldn’t navigate the balance between divorce and catching the bad guys.

Jane’s anger at her father appears justified, and “Axel F” isn’t ready to sweep it away for convenience’s sake. He must earn her trust again.

“Maverick” and “Axel F” teem with nostalgic throwbacks. The former brings Iceman (Val Kilmer) back for a bittersweet coda, and we see images of the late Goose (Anthony Edwards) to spark our tear ducts.

“Axel F” features the boyish Billy (now a 60-something Judge Reinhold), Taggart (John Ashton) and, of course, Serge (Bronson Pinchot).

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 20: Bronson Pinchot, Judge Reinhold, Eddie Murphy, John Ashton and Paul Reiser attend Los Angeles premiere of Netflix's "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F" at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on June 20, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kayla Oaddams/WireImage)

Kayla Oaddams/WireImage

We even see glimpses of the previous “Cop” movies via a case files montage.

The films also boldly replays the greatest hits from the ‘80s, witness “Danger Zone,” “Neutron Dance” and, of course, “The Heat Is On.” Great pop songs never go out of style.

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Murphy and Cruise didn’t want to embarrass themselves with these belated sequels. Both are hands-on talent at this point, serving as producers on their requisite films. They likely realized playing to the increasingly small woke audience would not only diminish the films in question but, perhaps, their legacies.

Murphy, in particular, may have realized why making “Coming 2 America” woke did him and the film few favors.

You don’t stay relevant in Hollywood for four decades without connecting with the American public. These stars instinctively knew we wanted to spend more time with Maverick and Axel again, but not in a way that diminished our memories.

We feel the need for nostalgia, and “Maverick” and “Axel F” deliver.

* * *

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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