It’s on Eddie Murphy’s ‘to do’ list and is readied at Netflix. Especially after the success at Amazon of Coming 2 America. But how to do it ‘right’ when resuming the adventures of Axel Foley?
Allow me to offer the usual gratuitous advice…
- Hire a GREAT writer to finish the script / polish it up a bit. Not just good, GREAT! Daniel Petrie Junior surely MUST be a part of this? He created the character every bit as much as Eddie honed the comedy? I am happy to consult, of course. 🙂
- ACTION! THRILLS! This property started as a Stallone vehicle, never forget that. Sly went on and made COBRA as his answer to the core idea. Murphy is a good action star as much as he is comedian. So this film has to be every bit as action packed as its predecessors.
- LAUGHS! it HAS to be FUNNY! As in laugh a second, without compromising the pulp thriller credentials. Parts 2 and 3 are funny in places but nowhere near the hilarity of the first film.
- Fish out of water. Axel probably now lives IN Beverly Hills. Going somewhere else is therefore the best way to preserve the sense of a man out of his element which is key to the comedy credentials here. Suggest starting and ending the action in Beverly Hills, but globe trot on the chase for a villain, thereby creating multiple, episodic fun and filling out pace and purpose.
- DUBLIN is a natural fit, because Axel is in his DNA, an Irishman. Plus it has new money, glamour, a scary underworld and can provide a chance to subvert stereotypes. Plus Axel can spoof his way into the Shelbourne Hotel!
- The Gang is all here? Sure. But it has to be relevant and non contrived. Some sequels suffer for not recalling beloved cast members, others take a hit needlessly cramming in old favourites for no reason, thereby weighing things down.
- John Ashton, Ronny Cox, Bronson Pinchot, Paul Reiser, Lisa Eilbacher, Hector Elizondo. Bring them all! But make sure they have a utility. Axel is perhaps under investigation (now an Inspector, maybe?) and his friends help cover for him while he clears his name? Serge is doing Axel’s home up? And so on.
- The Champagne Villain is a term Spielberg coined for the lead antagonist in an Indiana Jones picture. A Bond villain is another template and Axel Foley IS a kind of blue collar 007? So give him a worthy adversary. Perhaps an old friend from Detroit, made good and powerful but corrupt as hell?
- Ladies and gentlemen, I give you WESLEY SNIPES! He went brilliantly against Eddie in Coming 2 America and, as trivia would have it: it was Wesley’s action star status that Eddie envied in the 90s when everyone wanted Axel Foley to just be funny. HAVE THESE TWO FIGHT and I guarantee you a ruddy good time. Alternatively? How about ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER as a baddie out for revenge for Axel taking down his bro (Jurgen Prochnow from part 2?). Just a thought. 80s nostalgia meets modern revisionism!
Oh and yes, Eddie is older same way Harrison Ford is getting on a bit but still a vital star. Do NOT make this about Axel being old /past it / ready to retire, though obviously he is no longer 26. It’s possible to achieve that balance. And when in doubt? Let THAT theme tune do the heavy lifting..and yes, let Eddie have the Mumford t-shirt /baseball jacket /shades combo. He can pull it off as a look. Even in his 60s.
AXEL F WILL RETURN. THE HEAT IS ON!