In this wealthy area of Los Angeles, a tall, glamorous woman (Brigitte Nielsen) steps out of a limousine and walks into an exclusive jeweller's, pulls a pistol and begins threatening everyone in the place, backed up by her machine gun-toting henchmen. They begin shooting up the place and helping themselves to the merchandise as the woman calls out a countdown, then when she reaches zero they fire off one last volley and disappear: The Alphabet Bandits have struck for the first time, and the Beverly Hills Police Department are on the case, but something will occur to bring in a certain cop from Detroit...
He being Detective Axel Foley, who was really megastar Eddie Murphy capitalising on the fame he found on the big screen with the first Beverly Hills Cop movie three years before. For audiences of the day, he could do no wrong, and there were strong indications in his own mind that was the case as well, here contributing to the script to ensure this showed him in what he believed was his best light. You couldn't tell that to the critics, however, as this was the second starring vehicle in a row he appeared in to really get scathing reviews after The Golden Child, the naysayers considering this sequel to be a slick but soulless variation on the original where all the laughs had been replaced with arrogant self-indulgence.
Perhaps because Murphy went on to make even more soulless and self-indulgent projects this doesn't look quite as bad as it did back then, and to be fair there was a sizeable portion of the audience who saw this as a good night out - or in, on home video - resulting in the film earning its budget back many times over. Although it looked absolutely eighties pristine thanks to director Tony Scott's way with the camera, a million miles away from Martin Brest's more nuts and bolts directing style, it wasn't one of the most expensive movies to emerge from the decade, with producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer at the height of their lucrative and well-applied collaboration.
This meant many of their action movie behemoths had a signature look to them, and if you thought that wasn't entirely appropriate to a project where the jokes should have been the most important aspect rather than the lazy riffing Murphy was allowed here, they apparently believed the gun battles and chases (one in a concrete mixer) would more than make up for that. Those commercial instincts proved correct, and their efforts were really the ones to imitate for aspiring action flick makers, but they carried with them more than a slight case of flaunting their wealth. Whereas originally Axel had been a fish out of water shaking up those stuffy upper classes before, here were introduced to him driving a Ferrari and wearing an expensive suit.
Dialogue later on would have us swallow that this profligacy is picked up by the Detroit Police Department, hard to accept to say the least, as if Axel was allowed carte blanche to swan about however he liked at the expense of these public servants merely because he could launch into a comedy routine at the drop of a hat. One thing was clear, Foley wasn't one of us anymore, he was, as with the star portraying him, a member of the elite, which had him fitting right in with the affluence dangled right in front of our noses for a good hour and forty minutes. When the pursuit of The Alphabet Bandits (so-called after one A-related crime, sloppy writing there) lands Axel at a party hosted by Hugh Hefner (as himself) and attended by a gaggle of Playboy Playmates, we truly were in la-la land, but this did appeal to that feeling anybody could make it big in the eighties, no matter how far from the truth. Hence Beverly Hills Cop captured a mood, sour as it appeared on closer examination with its high living smugness and streak of misogyny. Music by Harold Faltermeyer.
British-born director Tony Scott was the brother of director Ridley Scott and worked closely with him in their production company for film and television, both having made their names in the advertising business before moving onto glossy features for cinema. He shocked Hollywood by committing suicide by jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles for reasons that were never disclosed.