Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Revenge of the Thin Blue Line 28: Beverly Hills Copaganda 4

"Look where I'm from cops don't file charges against other cops..." - Axel Foley, Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Cue the above dialouge to a slow fade in from a black screen to a dark street illuminated by flashing red and blue squad car lights.

The Beverly Hills Cop franchise is coming back with its 4th installment, 38 years after Detroit Detective Axel Foley greeted us with the distinctive Eddie Murphy laugh.  Many of the original cast will be returning to reprise their roles even though all the Officers would be long since retired, even nebbish (but surprisingly deadly) Detective Rosewood.

The long delayed sequel finds Axel returning to Beverly Hills to help his estranged daughter, a young Detective, and old friends take on a new crop of baddies with the expected inclusion of dirty cops on the force.  Fairly standard boilerplate buddy cop drama layered with the cliched old guard riding out one last time, with those bad apple cops working with the criminals comprising the antagonists.

But, what would be a more interesting Axel Foley story would be set sometime recently, as a soon to retire Superintendent Foley looks back on a distinguished 40 year career having been involved in numerous famous and infamous cases and apparently having killed over 20 people, when a young white officer shoots and kills an apparently unarmed black man.

Such a movie, could touch on and make Axel grapple with; The nascent Black Lives Matter movement, His rank and file Officers expecting 100% backing, Axel Foley's own killer past, the Mayor and city council hoping he can take the heat or the fall, the on-line rightwing troll universe which peddles non-stop lies and racism, and in the end force Axel to grapple with his own past, and policing in general, and the difficulties which face an African-American man in law enforcement. 

Instead I think Eddie Murphy and movie studio execs who greenlight this on Netflix are woefully out of touch with the current zeitgest surrounding police serials and movies.  And the whirlwind surrounding Law Enforcement in America in 2022.

This isn't the square 1950's with Jack Friday and just the facts ma'am.

Or the civil rights 1960s with the push back against racial prejudice with They call me Mr. Tibbs!

Nor the gritty, grimy crime everywhere 1970's of Dirty Harry with justice only coming from the breaking of the law.

And then there was the simultaneously wacky and serious 1980s and 1990s with their large ensemble casts of quirky characters engaging in more and more fantastical plots which held true for the dramas like New York Hill Street Blues and the comedies like Naked Police Academy Guns.

Of course, the 2000's have been dominated by the several hundred CDI: [Insert Place Name Here] shows and the rise of the Neo-gritty focused mini-series. 

And look there have been recent series which I've watched and found well-written and acted; Murdurr Durdurr, The Night Of, and the 1st and 3rd seasons of True Detective stand out.  Justified was good even if it did suffer the 1990's syndrome of increasingly outrageous storylines (and an unbelievable body count for ole Raylan Givens).  And the HBOMax comedy Southside is fantastic even if Police are only part of the story.  The low-key Barney Miller series still stands out.  And the films Blindspotting and Fruitvale Station viscerally captured the truth of policing in America.

So, once more unto the breach will ride Axel Foley in BH4 a film which will be more Coming to America II than Dolemite is My Name.

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