Director Mark Molloy said that when Eddie Murphy was on the set of Beverly Hills agent: Axel F, The esteemed actor instantly became the Axel Foley fan audiences know and love from the 1984 action film classic.

Murphy seemed to have aged so little that Molloy forgot he was directing a 63-year-old star, not the 23-year-old from the original film.

“Because he looked so good, I pretended he hadn’t aged. I just said, ‘Okay, Eddie, run down those stairs!’ I asked him to be physical because he looked so great,” Molloy recalled with a laugh in a recent Zoom call. “And then Eddie looked at me and said, ‘Hey man, are you trying to kill me here? What’s going on?’ I really tested him in the movie. I really tested Eddie in this movie.”

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New on Netflix Wednesday, Beverly Hills agent: Axel F. is notable in that the film not only marks Murphy’s return to his iconic role as Axel Foley that he created forty years ago, but also marks Molloy’s debut as a feature film director.

Grateful for legendary Beverly Hills Agent producer Jerry Bruckheimer entrusted him with the keys to the franchise, the Australian filmmaker said he tried not to dwell on the fact that not only Axel F his first film, but the first Beverly Hills Agent film in 30 years after the third film in the franchise was released in 1994.

“I tried to get past that and get going, because you can let the expectations and the scale of what you’re doing get the best of you,” Molloy said. “The good thing is that I had a very clear vision for the film from the moment I read the script, which (screenwriter) Will (Beall) had written well. The story was so sure of what it needed to be for a Beverly Hills Agent film. When I read the script, I said, ‘This could be great, but I want to do it a certain way.’

When Molloy presented his idea to Axel F to Bruckheimer, Murphy and Netflix and they trusted his vision, the process of recording the first Beverly Hills Agent film has become much less daunting in three decades.

Perhaps the most important thing Molloy remembers emphasizing during his first meeting with Bruckheimer was his intention to create exactly the same tone as the first two Beverly Hills Cop films from 1984 and 1987. Molloy knew it was a risk worth taking, even if he had to follow in the big footsteps of Martin Brest and Tony Scott, who Beverly Hills Agent and the first sequel.

“I said to Jerry in the very first meeting, ‘I want to make this an ’80s action comedy. I want to get back to the essence of what made those movies great,'” Molloy recalls. “I want to bring this movie to life with those movies in mind. I wanted to make it grounded and honest and raw, but I also wanted to make it funny. I want to get back to the principles of building the story around these larger-than-life characters.

Besides, Molloy added, if he were going to make it Beverly Hills agent: Axel F. Because it was an 80s action comedy, he had to use 80s filmmaking techniques, meaning he didn’t have to rely on computer-generated visual effects.

“I wanted to do everything in camera, no fancy VFX,” Molloy explained. “I wanted to ground it and do all the action in camera and make it a tangible experience for the audience. A lot of that goes into shaping the tone.”

Finding the balance between familiar and fresh

In Beverly Hills agent: Axel F. The action begins in Detroit, where Eddie Murphy’s venerable detective Axel Foley makes yet another colossal misstep and leaves yet more destruction in his wake.

Shortly after, Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) calls Axel to tell him that his estranged daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) is being threatened for representing a man accused of murdering a police detective.

Foley therefore travels to California to visit his daughter, but discovers that Billy has disappeared while helping Jane with her investigation into the case.

Beverly Hills agent: Axel F. also features the return of John Ashton as John Taggart, Paul Reiser as Jeffrey Friedman and Bronson Pinchot as Serge. New to the cast are Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Kevin Bacon, whose characters have ties to the Beverly Hills Police Department.

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Without a doubt, this was one of the most challenging parts of filmmaking for Mark Molloy when making Beverly Hills agent: Axel F. was finding the right balance for the film. True, it’s entertaining to see all the references to the original Beverly Hills Cop films, but at the same time, Molloy wanted to put his own creative spin on the material and make the film his own.

Molloy essentially had to find a way to make the new chapter of Beverly Hill Cop fresh and familiar at the same time.

“When you get something with such a great history, especially those first two films, I really wanted to embrace the tone and the way that they were created by great filmmakers like Marty Brest and Tony Scott,” Molloy said. “But when I looked at those first two films, I thought, ‘What can I learn from them and bring them into a modern world? How can I execute my version of the blueprint that they laid out for me?’”

One way Molloy said he was able to expand on the original films is by expanding the characters’ life stories. For example, Billy Rosewood left the Beverly Hills Police Department to become a private investigator, for reasons that become clear as the story unfolds. BHPD Sgt. Taggart has become Chief Taggart, and with that came a whole new set of responsibilities that made him forget the bond he and Rosewood once had.

“We really know these characters and a big part of the story is that it’s 40 years later, which is why I loved the script so much when I read it and was determined to bring the original cast back,” Molloy said.

“It’s not just about the journey that their lives have taken since we last saw them, but how their relationships with each other have evolved,” Molloy added. “You see that with Rosewood and Taggart and Axel coming back into their lives and how we get to play with the chemistry between them now that they’re all older.”

And then there’s Axel Foley, from whom he has estranged an adult daughter and who is struggling to reconnect with her.

“When I read the script, the thing that struck me the most is that we’re seeing Axel Foley in a different part of his life and a side of him that we haven’t seen before,” Molloy said. “We’re seeing him vulnerable. We’ve never seen him vulnerable before. But he’s a father now and how does that change him and how does he deal with that?”

Molloy said he couldn’t wait to explore the changes Axel has gone through in his life.

“That’s what really appealed to me as a filmmaker. I wanted to give the audience everything they want from a movie. Beverly Hills Agent film, but I wanted to surprise them with something new with an unexpected emotional undertone to the story that caught them off guard,” Molloy said. “It wasn’t just about making the film, but Why we were making the film. That was one of my windows into the story that I grabbed.”

Beverly Hills agent: Axel F. will be streamed exclusively on Netflix.

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