Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F ending explained — what happens to Foley's daughter?

Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F
Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. (Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Over the course of forty years and four installments, has anyone ever watched a Beverly Hills Cop movie for the story? 

As long as the plot motor is ticking over somewhere in the background, while Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley is in the midst of his latest outrageous car chase, stakeout, shootout, comic riff or dodgy impersonation of a totally fictitious city official we don’t particularly care - or give much thought - to what it is that is motivating him to get from A to B to C to D, and so on. 

For proof just look at the hokey ‘Alphabet Crimes’ in Beverly Hills Cop II. No, as soon as Murphy slips on Axel’s signature Detroit Lions jacket, it’s not the plot that has us hooked but the stuff in between.

If, while watching Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, however, you happen to pause and wonder what is going on underneath the hood, here is our rundown of the film’s story...

What takes Axel back to Beverly Hills?

What it is that has taken Axel back to Beverly Hills is easy to grasp. His estranged 32-year-old daughter, hotshot LA defense attorney Jane (Taylour Paige), was left dangling over the edge of a high-rise parking lot by a bunch of masked baddies demanding she drop her latest case. She has been defending a young man named Sam Enriquez (Damien Diaz) who stands accused of murdering an undercover police officer. Jane believes the cop, Copeland, was dirty - and she’s right. He was one of a band of crooked cops working for the story’s chief villain, Kevin Bacon’s Captain Cade Grant, whose proceeds from protecting the interests of a drug cartel have paid, among other ill-gotten gains, for his $2,000 Gucci shoes.

Now, who is the person who has tipped off Jane to her client’s innocence? Why, it’s none other than Axel’s old friend Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), whose thwarted efforts to expose local police corruption have seen him leave the Beverly Hills Police Department in disgust and set himself up as a private investigator. He had collared a crew of cartel members, it transpires, only to see them go free after Grant doctored the evidence. Billy’s former police partner, Taggart (John Ashton), is now the local chief of police, but he could not be persuaded to believe his old colleague’s “cockamamie conspiracy theory”.

What is the film’s “MacGuffin”?

When Axel goes to Billy’s office on arriving in LA, he finds a thuggish trio tearing the place apart, clearly desperate to find something. Grant’s goons are looking for the film’s “MacGuffin” - as Alfred Hitchcock termed the plot device that drives the characters - which turns out to be the SD card from the surveillance camera in the undercover cop’s car. Hidden we later learn amidst Billy’s Rambo memorabilia (a jokey nod to the fact that Sylvester Stallone was the first choice to play Axel), the SD card remains undiscovered.

At this point, Axel is unaware of the SD card’s existence. But following a dust-up with the thugs, a car chase that ends in Axel’s arrest, and his bailing out by a reluctant Jane, he deduces during a visit with Jane to the impound where the dead undercover cop’s car is being stored that this must be the key piece of evidence in the case. Billy had previously broken into the impound, we discover, but has gone missing after snooping around at the dock where the cartel is bringing in its drugs.

Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley holding a gun in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.

Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. (Image credit: Netflix)

Where does Joseph Gordon-Levitt come in?

Axel’s arrest brings him into contact with his daughter’s ex-boyfriend, Beverly Hills police detective Bobby Abbott (played by a new face in the series, Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who later comes to the rescue after Axel and Jane are ambushed by a cartel kill squad. In the aftermath of the attack, Bobby ends up suspended by Taggart, who this time around is clearly very slow on the uptake and can’t conceive that Grant is dirty.

Axel, however, did come away from Billy’s office with a clue, an address that points towards a Beverly Hills mansion as a base for the cartel’s operations. Discovering that the house next door is for sale, he now calls upon another old friend, unforgettable art gallery worker Serge, who accompanies Axel, Jane and Bobby on a viewing conducted by a real estate agent chum (a hilarious cameo by Nasim Pedrad). During the tour, Axel slips away for a poke around the cartel mansion and comes upon a black SUV bearing paint marks from the undercover cop’s car, indicating that it was used in his murder.

Where was the SD card hidden?

Now a team, Axel and Bobby pay a visit to karaoke-loving drug lord Chalino (Luis Guzman), the uncle of the young man framed for murder, and learn more details of the cartel’s operation. Immediately afterwards, they fall into Grant’s clutches but manage to escape from custody in a police helicopter flown by a very jittery Bobby, who used to be a helicopter pilot but quit the job after losing his nerve. The pair end up crashing on a country club golf course but survive to visit the dock and rescue Billy, who has been held captive all this time by the cartel but has not given up the whereabouts of the SD card. It turns out to have been hidden in his office in his ‘Rambo’ commando knife.

From the port, the trio hijacks a truck containing the cartel’s cocaine and heads for the Beverly Hills mansion, discovering en route that Grant has kidnapped Jane. Grant attempts to send them instead to the gang’s warehouse, but a trace on Jane’s phone carried out by Axel’s Detroit superior, Police Chief Jeffrey Friedman (played by Paul Reiser, another of the series’ regulars), reveals she is being held at the mansion. We are now back on very familiar ground as Axel, Bobby and Billy storm the mansion, belatedly joined by the contrite Taggart, for an epic shootout with Grant and his henchmen. 

Naturally, our heroes finish up on top, although Axel is winged in the shoulder by a shot from Grant and ends up in a Beverly Hills hospital. Appalled by the hospital food, he breaks out to visit a nearby diner. Jane tracks him down there and father and daughter reconcile. Cut to a few days later and Billy and Taggart are keeping vigil outside the hospital. Slipping out of the hospital again, Axel sneaks into the back seat of their car and surprises them, just as he did forty years earlier.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is now available to watch worldwide on Netflix.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.