Monday Movie: Beverly Hills Cop, by David Bax
Recently, for this sporadic, nebulously defined column, I wrote (not entirely favorably) about Penny Marshall’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It got me thinking about a movie from a couple years earlier, one whose success was no doubt a partial inspiration for the greenlighting of Jumpin’ Jack Flash in the first place, Martin Brest’s Beverly Hills Cop. Taking the same approach of introducing a young comic talent to the movies mostly but just letting him run his incredible motormouth at a variety of scene partners, Beverly Hills Cop finds more success not just by virtue of Eddie Murphy’s talents but also because Brest did a better job at downplaying the weaknesses his film also shares with Marshall’s.
Namely, Beverly Hills Cop is an action comedy that is not particularly good at the action part. The final raid on the villain’s mansion and the ensuing shootout are clumsily staged. The sequence often feels surprisingly low stakes given how many people die in it.
If you don’t remember Beverly Hills Cop as a low-energy actioner, though, that’s probably because it kicks off with the best action sequence of the entire film, an exuberant orgy of twisted metal as a massive semi plows through every poor parked car, vegetable truck, city bus and anything else it can find while Murphy’s stunt double does tremendous swings off the back of the vehicle from a length of chain, all set to a boppy Pointer Sisters tune. The scene is a party of destruction and the lessons learned from it probably set producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson on the path toward the brawny, expensive stupidity of the Michael Bay/Simon West heyday that would be the 90s. I don’t particularly like those movie but I still think it was worth it.