In 1984, Eddie Murphy took a role which once almost belonged to Sylvester Stallone and made it his own special brand of action hero. Beverly Hills Cop rapidly became one of the most popular buddy/action/cop comedies of the decade, and was an apt follow-up (in kind, if not in name) to his breakout hit 48 Hours with Nick Nolte. Murphy’s Axel Foley combined street smarts, outlaw tactics, and detective savvy, while trigger-happy desk jockey Judge Reinhold played the perfect sidekick/foil.
The long-awaited fourth film, over twenty years in the making, was recently put on hold in part due to Murphy’s lack of commitment to the project. Now, after sorting out some writing issues, it appears Beverly Hills Cop 4 has a new pair of directors and a classic location.
Deadline just dropped news that Paramount has signed a pair of Belgian directors for the fourth Axel Foley installment. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, known for their Romeo and Juliet-inspired update Black, have signed up to direct the project. The harsh but beautiful drama, about a teenage gangster girl who falls for a rival gang member hit hard at the Toronto Film Festival last year, winning the Discovery Award. Arbi and Fallah are also, apparently, big fans of the original Beverly Hills Cop.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Eddie Murphy were reportedly very impressed with the Morrocan-Belgian helmers and their film. The directorial duo should bring a fresh perspective and youthful energy to the series. As a result of their work on Black, Bruckheimer signed them on to work from Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec’s script for Beverly Hills Cop 4, which will bring the franchise full circle and return Axel Foley to his Detroit roots.
Little else has been revealed about the fourth Beverly Hills Cop film, aside from its return to the Motor City. Originally slated for release this year, the project lost its legs after Murphy's waffling and concerns over perfecting the script. Now it sounds like the follow-up is back on track. One possible influence on the renewed momentum for the upcoming sequel is the Beverly Hills Cop TV series. Rejected by CBS a couple years ago, the show likely have kept the concept bouncing around the heads of Hollywood decision-makers. In it the series, Axel Foley would have been a decorated Police Chief, who passed the torch to his son. Since the project was rejected, Appelbaum/Nemec probably wanted to stick closer to the original formula used in the films. However, it's possible they could delve into the father-son buddy cop realm (sort of like Indian Jones and the Crystal Skull did with adventure films).
Nonetheless, Murphy is no spring chicken. Depending upon Paramount’s intentions for the franchise – since it seems like everyone wants a shared universe these days – they may keep elements of heir-apparent angle or decide to wrap up the popular films with an eye on rebooting the franchise (let's hope not). It will be interesting to see what develops in the coming days. No matter what happens, hopefully Beverly Hills Cop 4 is not just a return to Detroit, but also a return to form for Eddie Murphy’s quipping cop.
Beverly Hills Cop IV does not currently have a release date; we’ll let you know when/if that changes.