Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) ***

R, 100 min.
Director: Tony Scott
Writers: Larry Ferguson, Warren Skaaren, Eddie Murphy, Robert D. Wachs, Danilo Bach (characters), Daniel Petrie Jr. (characters)
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Ronny Cox, Brigitte Nielsen, Allen Garfield, Jürgen Prochnow, Dean Stockwell, Paul Reiser, Gil Hill

I almost revisited this one a few weeks ago after learning about the death of director Tony Scott. “Beverly Hills Cop II” is kind of an anomaly in Scott’s career. I believe it represents his only foray into comedy, although “The Last Boy Scout” had some comedic elements. In retrospect, Scott is perhaps the least likely candidate to helm this follow-up in a franchise comedy vehicle. At the time, he’d only directed two feature films and was mega hot thanks to the success of “Top Gun”.

Scott’s directing style is moody and heavy. Despite this seeming contrast to the “Beverly Hills Cop” model, he does a surprisingly good job with the comedic elements. Scott probably pushes the violence a little farther in this second episode than people may have been anticipating, but the sophomore effort for the franchise is comparable to the first with its balance of action and comedy. Like Brest did for the first film, Scott uses Eddie Murphy’s strengths as a cross over comedian very well here. He takes Judge Reinhold’s character to another level with his hidden gun enthusiasm. All around the movie does just what a sequel should. It takes the best of what worked from the first movie and elevates it to another level.

Another surprising element that Scott brings to this second installment is his signature photographic style. Scott’s L.A. is a hazy magic hour atmosphere, even in the middle of the night. His camera captures the light in such a way that everything looks a way that it only ever looks in the movies. It doesn’t draw as much attention to itself here as it does with some of his and his brother Ridley’s other projects, but you can freeze just about any frame of the movie and still be able to tell that it’s a Tony Scott movie.

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