‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ Reloads With Eddie Murphy In His ‘Encores For Streaming’ Phase

John Ashton, Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold reunite in “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.” (Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix via CNN Newsource)

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — “Beverly Hills Cop” spawned a trio of movies, but more significantly, the 1984 film capped off a string of hits (after “48 Hrs.” and “Trading Places”) that launched Eddie Murphy into the movie-star stratosphere. As Murphy moves into the encores-for-streaming phase of his career (see “Coming 2 America”), enter “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F,” which features enough unapologetic nostalgia (cue the music) to power through its flat spots.

The fact that the film is premiering via Netflix, as opposed to theaters, might warrant some second-guessing given the box-office numbers that the latest “Bad Boys” sequel has delivered, but that’s a debate for another day. From the get-go, the star appears up to the task as he slides back into a role to which he said goodbye 30 years ago, and introduced a decade before that.

As with “Coming 2 America,” “Alex F” uses a next-generation hook to get into the story and create the excuse to bring Murphy’s Axel Foley from Detroit (after an introductory action sequence that goes on a bit too long) back to Beverly Hills, reuniting him with lots of familiar faces.

In this case, he’s summoned by Billy (Judge Reinhold) to help Axel’s estranged daughter, Jane (Taylour Paige, who followed “Hit the Floor” with “Zola” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), a lawyer representing a client who has triggered a warning to back off from some very bad people.

Before you can say “Get the f—k outta here” (which is, not surprisingly, said several times), Axel lands in L.A., cheerfully insisting, “They love me in Beverly Hills!”

Staying on brand, he quickly irks the local authorities as he sets about protecting Jane, while running afoul of a corrupt detective played by Kevin Bacon (one of two movies in which he appears this week, the other being “MaXXXine”).

Axel also gets teamed up with a younger cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who has some history with Jane, although frankly – other than “Saturday Night Live” alum Nasim Pedrad’s hilarious cameo as a Beverly Hills realtor – the newcomers don’t stand much of a chance to register as holdovers like Paul Reiser, Bronson Pinchot and John Ashton join Reinhold in dropping by.

In perhaps the wisest (and easiest) decision, first-time feature director Mark Molloy relies heavily on music associated with the original movies, from Harold Faltermeyer’s electronic score to songs like “The Heat is On” and “Neutron Dance,” augmented by a new one from Lil Nas X.

In the early going, a younger colleague in Detroit points out that Axel continues to hit the streets at a time when “guys your age” are transitioning to desk jobs, which basically spells out the formulation here, and how Murphy effectively carries off the same mentality as his alter ego.

“Axel F” only turns up the heat to a low simmer, but as breezy escapism goes, those armed with the proper attitude might find themselves doing the neutron dance, or a version of it, all over again.

“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” premieres July 3 on Netflix. It’s rated R.

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