Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Character Depth - Axel Foley

From Nicolle C. Jones:

Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop - Axel is pretty static as heroes go and is quickly established as a cool customer with anti-authority tendencies. That doesn’t noticeably change. He ends the movie much the same way as he began, but he influences the people around him - Billy, Taggert, Bogamil, and this makes Axel an incredibly strong character, the gravity of the script. The essence of Axel is that he’s a cop who acts like a con. He has nothing in common with the white bread cops of privilege, and he’s not going to toe the line. His loyalty is to the childhood friend who has been murdered. The incongruity speaks about where he comes from and how he operates with a little social commentary thrown in for good measure. It’s a familiar archetype and it may be edging a little too close to the loose cannon cop cliché, but what really sells it is how Axel relates to pervasively evil Victor Maitland. He doesn’t charge right in swearing oaths, he just simply stays cool. The most direct anger you see from Axel is with his fellow cops. Hell, he slugs Taggert flat out. With Maitland he bides his time, digs for evidence and just makes himself a constant nuisance. By the end, he’s got a few more friends who are the wiser for having met him, but he’s still Axel - smart, witty, and loyal throughout which is damned endearing.


Mystery Man said...

"A con who is a cop" is quite classic, but I liked the distinction you made between how he treats the bad guys vs. how he treats fellow cops. Great!

Nic said...

Yeah, that always struck me cause Detriot vs. Beverly Hills is such a different feel than Chicago or NY vs. Beverly Hills. The opening sequence has a montage of shots showing the hurting sections of Detroit and you get the sense Axel's coming out of that, but he's still trying to be the good guy, and do what's right, even if he has to bend the rules here and there. It's subtle, but it's big and it's coming right out of Axel's character, which is brilliant.

greg said...

How pitiful is this? Beverly Hills Cop was the very first VHS I ever bought? I sat through number 2 three times the first day it came out in the theater... :) HBO ran them both back to back on Saturday - from 1am till 5 am...

and I wonder why I'm tired.

GameArs said...

An interesting thing about "Beverly Hills Cop" is that it's one of those rare moments in film where a totally competant protagonist is still interesting. Usually, a protagonist is rooted for because he needs to struggle to achieve things, just like all of us.

Axel gets whatever he wants whiz-bang! He moves into a mansion by blitzkrieging that construction foreman with verbal-anomolies-from-Hell. He does this throughout the film, with little trouble, but still, he's compelling.

You know you have a great character when you can get away with that.

Nice post!

Miriam said...

Beverly Hills Cop started out with a great script and built from there. Not only was the dialogue well-written, it was delivered with panache by all the actors.

Even a little conversation about a lemon, or limon, twist took on a life of its own.

shtove said...

I saw this moveie again just a few days ago. Murphy gives a great performance - especially in the country club scene, when he switches from high camp with the maitre d' to steely confrontation of the villain at his table. But the ending is so Scooby Doo - facile, with a cheesey shucksiness about it.

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