Uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently revealed plans for sequels to two of his biggest hits: Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop. According to Bruckheimer, both Tom Cruise and Eddie Murphy are on board with reprising their iconic roles as Maverick and Axel Foley, respectively.
The question, though, is why? Not just why there’s any need to do sequels to movies that are 30 years old, but more importantly, why Cruise and Murphy would be willing to step back into the roles that helped make them famous.
When They Were Young
In the mid- to late-80s, Murphy and Cruise were arguably the two biggest stars in America. Murphy was already a star before Beverly Hills Cop debuted in 1984, thanks to Saturday Night Live, 48 Hours and Trading Places, but the giant success of BHC kicked him into another stratosphere. The movie was the highest-grossing R-rated comedy for 25 years until The Hangover.
Two years later, Cruise cashed in the promise that he had shown in Risky Business by playing the cocky fighter pilot who “feels the need… the need for speed.” The role kicked off a run for the actor that saw him not only conquering the box office, but winning critical acclaim in movies like Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July.
Superstars… No Matter What
All these years later, Murphy and Cruise are still famous but it has more to do with who they were, rather than who they are. People still want to know about them — the net jumped to attention with rumors that Cruise was dating actress Laura Prepon… partially because she’s 18 years younger than he is, but also because it’s Tom freaking Cruise. When Murphy took a family vacation to Hawaii recently, photos of his daughter and girlfriend were all over the place… mostly because they’re both gorgeous, but also because they’re with Eddie freaking Murphy.
Murphy and Cruise don’t need to revisit their past to reclaim the glory… they just need to do good work. Murphy has shown that when he picks a project that isn’t schlocky kiddie fare (Bowfinger, Dreamgirls) that he’s still a powerful entertainer.
The same holds true for Cruise, who too often relies on his famous persona to carry him through a role. Cruise has never stopped working, but he rarely deviates from his bread and butter roles as the “good guy.” When he does step outside of his comfort zone — like with his hysterical and profane cameo in Tropic Thunder — it’s thoroughly refreshing.
Bruckheimer has said that Top Gun 2 will see Maverick dealing with the advent of unmanned drones and Beverly Hills Cop 4 will take Axel Foley back to Detroit. Neither is an especially bad idea… they’re just both thoroughly unnecessary. If only Cruise and Murphy could see that and leave their iconic characters in the past where they belong… and set about creating new roles that provide the same thrill that their work 30 years ago did.