Let’s be clear: long before Chris Rock came onto the Hollywood scene, Eddie Murphy was there in his place. This film is classic Murphy, with his wise-cracking, fast-talking, slightly camp personality in full flow.
The plot isn’t much to speak of, but the comic characterisation is well-done, if a little clichéd - the bumbling duo of Taggart (John Ashton) and Rosewood (the strangely-named Judge Reinhold) are straight out of the book of cop stereotypes. The film is well-directed and edited - some of Martin Brest’s opening scenes, showing a-day-in-the-life of poor America, could belong to a film much more serious than this.
Everyone who has seen it remembers Beverly Hills Cop as playful, and indeed it is, with music such as the ‘Neutron Dance’ (80s disco, when such things were hip) playing over the car chase - complete with the traditional American cops who can’t find the brake pedal when it comes to an end. But there is nevertheless a scene of surprising violence not more than 20 minutes into the film, which gives it a more adult edge and allows Brest to provide a motivation for Murphy’s character in the film that’s necessary to allow it to make sense. Interestingly, this violence is copied in a similar manner in the first sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II.
All in all, a classic 80s comedy action film, and well worth seeing, along with the first sequel (which, incidentally, includes a bit part by Chris Rock). Avoid Beverly Hills Cop III.