Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Beverly Hills: Third Time's a Flop

There's a line in "Beverly Hills Cop III," the latest offering at the Americom House of Cinema, that really says it all. "I have no doubts," says a secondary character, pausing for dramatic effect. "Nor do I have any ideas."

What? But that's the mantra the filmmakers must have been swearing by when they created this monster. There's no doubt that this sequel will make a profit, so why bother coming up with any ideas?

To be fair, this movie does have one basic idea, although not a terribly clever one: Take the usual battle against the powers of darkness and set it in the happy, sugar-coated world of an amusement park. All the natural sub-plots fall tidily into place -- terror on the rides, intrigue under the animal costumes and secret passageways that lead to a lot more than just Happy Forest.

Those elements could add up to something amusing, but this film, directed by John Landis, is dead in the water, weighed down with limp dialogue, a total lack of suspense and way too much violence. The opening scene is so long and senselessly graphic that it's hard to believe a comedy is supposed to follow.

Somewhere deep within all of that fog, Eddie Murphy is a talented performer who can be delightful to watch. Back as Detroit police detective Axel Foley, Murphy is still the irreverent, quick-thinking guy that seemed so appealing in the first "BHC," and he's got about five really good moments, but at this point, even he seems worn down by his second-rate surroundings.

Foley's third trip to Beverly Hills is spurred when a car-theft operation under investigation in Detroit becomes a stopover point for a group of smooth, heavily armed gentlemen in pursuit of a van smuggling government documents. The men and the van head off to Wonder World, a Disney-style theme park, spraying bullets behind them. Foley's cantankerous but fatherly boss is killed in the gunfire, and Foley heads to California, swearing revenge.

At first, it's hard to believe Wonder World could have anything resembling a sinister underbelly. Except for the bad guys, who are all white and blue-eyed, the park is a virtual paragon of goodwill and cultural diversity. As Uncle Dave, the park's septuagenarian founder, says wide-eyed, "It's a place of childhood innocence and fun!"

"And life and death," Murphy replies gravely, putting the naive Uncle Dave in his place. As it turns out, there are counterfeiters afoot, led by the park's picture-perfect head of security, Ellis Dewald, played by Timothy Cathart. Nothing's going to stand between them and their profit, particularly not Uncle Dave, whom they unceremoniously shoot with Axel's gun, setting off a national scandal. The film ends as violently as it begins, but when the smoke clears and all the dead bodies have been removed, it's clear that justice has prevailed.

Judge Reinhold returns as Billy Rosewood, the earnest, gentle soul who blindly follows Axel's lead despite his compulsions to work by the book. Theresa Randall, a very pretty actress whose delivery of finely crafted lines like "Alien Attack is one of our more popular attractions" falls completely flat, is expected to provide the love interest.

A welcome touch of humor is briefly provided by Bronson Pinchot, reviving his role as the ebullient and well-groomed Serge, he of the wonderfully untraceable accent. The scene, featuring Serge in his new line of work, selling luxury self-defense products, goes on much longer than would normally be its due, but much to the relief of everyone. He's the funniest thing in the film.

"Beverly Hills Cop III" plays through Nov. 30 at the Americom House of Cinema, in the Radisson-Slavjanskaya Hotel. Show times are 8 P.M. Monday through Friday, and 6 and 8 P.M. Saturday and Sunday. Simultaneous Russian translations are provided Friday through Sunday. Tickets are the ruble equivalent of $7, or $7.50 by credit card. Tel. 941-8890. Nearest metro: Kievskaya.