Best Beverly Hills Cop Movies Ranked After Axel F

Axel Foley is back in Netflix’s Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, the fourth entry in the extremely popular Beverly Hills Cop series that launched Eddie Murphy as a superstar when it began in 1984. Thankfully, the new film is an entertaining return for Axel that should equally please die-hard franchise fans and Murphy admirers.

Where does this fourth entry rank among the best Beverly Hills Cop movies? Read on to find out! (Ranked from worst to best.)

4) Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

Am I crazy to think Beverly Hills Cop III is better than critics suggest? Yes, it’s the weakest entry of the franchise, but the John Landis-directed threequel is moderately entertaining and at least sprinkles some new features on the long-running franchise. This time, Axel tracks his friend’s killer to a Disneyland-like amusement park in southern California. Surprisingly tame in its execution, particularly given the talent involved, BHC3 has its moments, even if it’s clear that Murphy is on cruise control, and this is at the bottom of our list of the best Beverly Hills Cop movies.

3) Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (2024)

The fourth chapter in the Beverly Hills Cop saga benefits from a hefty amount of nostalgia, shamelessly riffing off elements of the original picture right down to the “Neutron Dance.” Still, director Mark Molloy and writers Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten wisely use the pre-established template to dig further into Axel Foley, the man, as seen through the eyes of his estranged daughter Jane (Taylour Paige). We learn what makes Foley tick, resulting in a more nuanced franchise entry. At one point, Foley heads into a hotel and tries to do his usual schtick to secure a room. Midway through, he stops, sighs, and says, “You know what, I’m tired. Just give me a room.”

In other words, Axel F presents our hero as an ordinary man coming to terms with his place in the world. The script doesn’t dive as deep into its subject as, say, Top Gun: Maverick, but it still gives us a better look at the human being behind the facade. I dug it.

Meanwhile, a convoluted plot involving a corrupt police captain (Kevin Bacon) forces Foley to return to Beverly Hills once more to aid his pals while dealing with his daughter’s love interest (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt). Don’t think about it too hard.

BHC4 never hits the same high bars as the first two, mainly due to a convoluted plot involving a corrupt police captain (Kevin Bacon) that fails to generate much suspense. Still, it’s fun to see the whole gang back together, namely Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), John Taggart (John Ashton), Jeffrey (Paul Reiser), and Serge (Bronson Pinchot), and watching Murphy is always a treat.

Surprisingly action-packed, this legacy sequel is a welcome return to form for Foley and a superb final bow for the franchise.

2) Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

Many call Beverly Hills Cop II a lifeless rehash of the original. While the sequel follows similar beats as its predecessor, director Tony Scott infuses the production with so much style that it hardly matters. Part two is the one that transformed Foley into a got-darned icon and introduced crucial elements that the later chapters would echo. Sure, much of the magic conjured by Martin Brest in Beverly Hills Cop gives way to overblown set pieces, and the script doesn’t find much time for humor, but BHC2 is still a rip-roaring action vehicle that makes the most of Murphy’s considerable star power.

1) Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

When I rewatched Beverly Hills Cop, I was taken aback by its basic production values. Director Martin Brest doesn’t upend the action or comedy genres or incorporate the same overbearing style as later entries. Instead, he points his camera and lets Eddie Murphy cook.

I was reminded of Dr. No, the film that introduced James Bond to the world. At one point, the character merely walks across a casino floor as his theme blazes over the soundtrack: no action, no gadgets, just a cool actor doing his thing. BHC follows this mantra, realizing the appeal of its premise lies in Murphy’s superstar charisma. Everything else, including plot, action, and logic, takes a back seat. Audiences need only sit back and watch Murphy do his thing, which is why this is at the top of our list of the best Beverly Hills Cop movies.

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