One of the reasons that Die Hard became so iconic was all the rip-offs that came along after its success. One man against many, usually in an enclosed area. Some have done it great and others… not so much. Then right in the middle sits movies like The Taking of Beverly Hills.
To be fair, The Taking of Beverly Hills does try to do something kind of different with this action movie concept and turn it on it’s head. Our protagonist isn’t locked in with other civilians and simply has to take out the bad guys and save everyone.
Beverly Hills, also known as the “Garden Spot of the World,” was quite the big deal in the 80s and 90s, especially in movies. Beverly Hills Cop and Pretty Woman are just a couple of examples. Part of this is due to California being the place at the time to make movies. Now, any place outside of California is.
So it makes sense that you’d take a popular action movie concept and place it in one the the most popular cities at the time. It helps that Beverly Hills is home to a lot of money. Which is the foundation of the movie.
The Taking of Beverly Hills is basically just as the title suggests. A bunch of ex-police officers plan to rob the city of Beverly Hills of its money, jewellery and art. The whole thing is set up by Robert Masterson (Robert Davi). Masterson, the owner of LA’s football team, wants to be more than that. He wants to be powerful. Typical of rich antagonists.
After a hazardous chemical spill forces everyone living and working in the city to be evacuated, then Beverly Hills is theirs for the taking.
However, they weren’t expecting one man to be left behind and become a major wrench in their whole operation. Boomer Hayes (Ken Wahl), an aging quarterback for Masterson’s football team, stumbles upon what’s going on. He quickly realizes that the whole thing is a hoax to get everyone out.
Boomer is outnumbered, but he still plans to move down the field and score a touchdown. Sorry, he’s a quarterback and the movie is loaded with football puns. I wanted to share that experience. He does get some help with a beat cop, Officer Ed Kalvin (Matt Frewer).
Kalvin was in on the whole heist, until he witnessed a murder by Masterson’s right hand man, Varney (Lee Ving). Kalvin then ends up working with Boomer to try getting out and letting real authorities know what exactly is going on.
The plot works well, although at the time the idea of a bunch of rich people willingly leaving their mansions to stay in the lobby of a hotel in the next city over seemed a little ridiculous. Now-a-days, it’s all too realistic. The willingness is spot on, and makes for a plot that hasn’t aged poorly.
The Taking of Beverly Hills has decent acting with some good choices of actors. Wahl could’ve been a great action star. He made a name for himself through the 80s and 90s, but unfortunately due to some serious injuries, things fell apart for him.
Wahl and Frewer teaming up, making it kind of a buddy cop movie, doesn’t really work. They both are decent, but they don’t have a lot of chemistry together. To be fair, their characters don’t know each other and come from completely different worlds, but that can be said for many characters in buddy cop movies and it works perfectly for those characters.
Davi and Ving are great as the antagonists, Davi is always good as the main villain in movies. Ving comes off like he’s trying to be over the top, but comes up short. He is still a lot of fun to watch.
Benitez (Branscombe Richmond) is the main baddie muscle and is set after Boomer. A lot of the movie’s action comes from him trashing the city with a SWAT tank. Richmond has always been a big hit for me. I mostly know him from the show Renegade and loved seeing him in movies from time to time.
There’s also Laura Sage (Harley Jane Kozak) as Boomer’s love interest. She used to date Masterson and now hates him, and so does her father. This is a big motivation for Masterson and his plan. Kozak is fine, but her character isn’t given much to do. She sneaks around at the hotel and finds out about Masterson, but that’s about it. The character feels shoehorned in.
The acting is good enough, but nothing to write home about. On the other hand, the action is great and definitely memorable. I haven’t watched this movie since the days of VHS, but I’ve always remembered the action. The destroying of Beverly Hills with a tank, the Molotov cocktails chucked from a Rolls-Royce, and ninja stars.
The Taking of Beverly Hills may have just been an easy cash grab, riding on the coat tails of another movie’s success, but it does a good job. It’s not great and doesn’t necessarily stand out in the crowd, but it is a lot of fun. It’s underrated and deserves better than it got. That said, I get why it has fallen to the wayside. If you like action movies of the 80s and 90s, it’s definitely worth checking out.