‘This Is When You Can Tell A Movie's Not Going To Work’: Eddie Murphy Gets Real About Why Beverly Hills Cop 3 Was A Misfire

 Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop III.
Credit: Paramount Pictures

This week, one of Eddie Murphy's most iconic film franchise's will finally expand when Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F premieres after decades of remaining in development hell. Part of the reason for the long wait is clearly because, even though the first two movies were massive box office hits, the third installment did not live up to its predecessors. Ultimately, it was both a critical and commercial failure. Even Murphy has admitted that the threequel has problems, calling it “soft.” With that, the actor also explained just why the film was a misfire.

It’s difficult to argue that whatever magic was present within the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies was missing in the third. The first sequel only received middle-of-the-road reviews, but it was the highest-grossing domestic movie of 1987 because it had everything fans wanted out of a sequel (on paper). Eddie Murphy admits to Screen Rant that Cop III was missing some key elements that made the earlier movies good, specifically, one co-star and more. Murphy said…

The reason Beverly Hills Cop 3 was soft was because Taggart's not in the movie, and the villain isn't villainous enough, and Axel didn't have any skin in the game. The first movie, Axel's best friend is killed. And the second one, his boss, the Chief, gets killed. And then in the third one, Uncle Dave is in trouble. That's what the movie's about.

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While John Ashton's Sgt. Taggert may have only been a supporting player within the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, but Eddie Murphy thinks the missing character was one of the key elements the 1994 flick was lacking. In that movie, Taggert is revealed to have retired, and Judge Reinhold’s Billy Rosewood has a new partner. Thankfully, the new movie won’t have that problem as Ashton is returning to the franchise as part of the Axel F cast.

Cop IIIs failure was certainly disappointing for all involved, but that doesn’t mean it was a surprise. Eddie Murphy indicates that he knew the movie wasn’t clicking while he was filming it, as one scene was so cliched that he knew it was in trouble. He explained…

This is when you can tell a movie's not going to work: when you have one of those lines that you've seen millions [of times] and hundreds of thousands of movies have said this line. There was one scene where I had Uncle Dave in the back, and he was dying. I was driving, and I said, ‘Don't you die on me, man!’ How many times have you seen that in a movie? When somebody's dying, ‘Don't you die on me!’ If you in a movie, and you scream, "Don't you die on me," that means the movie's not going to work. [Laughs]

Beyond the fact that large parts of the movie took place at an amusement park, Valencia, CA’s Magic Mountain, standing in for the fictional theme park Wonder World, there wasn’t a lot that was special about Beverly Hills Cop II. In hindsight, the movie was more an excuse to get Eddie Murphy to play Axel again than it was a reason to do that.

On the plus side, the failure of the third film did result in a bit of a silver lining. The fourth film was held up mainly because the producers and leading man did their due diligence by waiting to find a story worth telling. One can only hope that this latest outing for Axel Foley will surely surpass his last one. Fans will find out on July 3 when Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F becomes available for Netflix subscribers. And check out the 2024 movie schedule to read up on other releases.