Saturday, April 13, 2013

Instant Action: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Oooh, a black cop in Beverly Hills, how edgy!

Screenplay By: Daniel Petrie Jr.
Directed By: Martin Brest

Just a quick introduction, and then we'll get on with the review of Beverly Hills Cop. My name's Bill Thompson, and I've been reviewing movies at my blog, Bill's Movie Emporium, and over at Sound on Sight, for a while now. I'm also a big fan of The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema. However, for whatever reason I tend to not cover much action in any of my blogging endeavors. Being a part of the community for The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema I got the idea for a new column a few months ago. On a non-regular basis I'll be posting a review of an action movie that's available to stream online instantly, hence the column title, Instant Action. I'm hoping this will be a fun enterprise for me, and that maybe, just maybe, a few of the readers of The Gentlemen's Blog to Midnite Cinema will enjoy reading what I have to say. With the intro out of the way, let's get into this Eddie Murphy vehicle.

I was never a big Eddie Murphy fan growing up. It wasn't that I was averse to Mr. Murphy or his comedic style. Rather, I had a pretty strict grandmother who sure as heck was not about to allow her only grandson, at the time, to watch anything as foul mouthed as Mr. Murphy's stand-up or films. With that being the case I can honesty say that I didn't watch a single film of Mr. Murphy's until I watched Mulan in 1998. For as great as Mulan is, it's obviously a far cry from his earlier, far raunchier work. That's why, when my wife randomly picked number 23 from the action section of my Netflix Instant queue I was excited to see Beverly Hills Cop in that slot.

I'm probably late to the party in saying this, but Eddie Murphy is a special kind of screen presence. It's clear from the first time that Mr. Murphy pops up on screen that he is fully capable of grabbing hold of the camera and not letting it drift away for any reason. This of course has its drawbacks in that some of the weaker elements of Beverly Hills Cop are exposed when Mr. Murphy isn't being lusted over by the camera. But, on the whole that isn't too much of a problem because the camera is almost always focusing on Mr. Murphy in some way. From his giant smile to his infectiously large laugh Mr. Murphy has charm and presence to spare. It's rare that an actor as untrained and as young as Mr. Murphy can have "it", but Mr. Murphy most certainly has "it."

The film itself is a well-balanced blend of comedy and action. I was impressed with the opening truck chase scene, both in terms of filmed carnage and in the fun nature of the chase. Right off the bat Beverly Hills Cop establishes a fun tone. Maybe it's because of the presence of Mr. Murphy, or the loose direction of Martin Brest, but whatever the reason there's never a moment where Beverly Hills Cop takes itself too seriously. The light tone greatly aides in the mixing of the comedy and the action. The only moment when the two are at odds with one another is when a pair of characters are trying to scale a wall during the final showdown. I understand completely what Mr. Brest was going for, but those two characters bumbling at that moment distracted from the drama taking place. Luckily that was the only moment where the comedy and the action didn't mix.

The story in Beverly Hills Cop is a very simple one, but I appreciated the streamlined nature of what is essentially a revenge tale. The supporting characters are pretty weak, but this is Mr. Murphy's vehicle through and through and he shines more than enough to make up for any shortcomings in the rest of the cast. More than anything Beverly Hills Cop is a fun romp that's funnier than it is action filled. But, when Beverly Hills Cop does get down to its action it presents some pretty cool and well done action. I'm late to the Eddie Murphy train, but after Beverly Hills Cop I'm certainly interested in seeing more of his early work.



Bill Thompson

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