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We're not sure which of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief we've hit in our consideration of Beverly Hills Cop 4. Denial and anger seem ages ago, as does bargaining. And a script review appearing online today has us skipping depression altogether for what we suppose is something akin to acceptance — if you call "believing there is actually a studio cynical enough to greenlight this with Brett Ratner behind the camera" acceptance, or if that just throws us back to the beginning again. Help us sort it out, will you?

A screenplay by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma) appears to have turned up as the Leaked Script of the Month selection for December, getting its first coverage by readers at Latino Review. "The studio loves the draft but Eddie Murphy is not too keen on it," the site reports, but for the sake of argument we'll just imagine Murphy going along with it because, well, that's what he does. The film (working title: Beverly Hills Cop 2009) features Axel Foley returning to California after his ex-partner Billy Rosewood turns up dead in an apparent suicide. Except Axel knows better, and he will get to the hilarious bottom of it. Or something:

[Axel's] new partner is Goodwin, a fat rookie with low self-esteem who has a crush on a lady cop in the facial recognition department. When he's not solving the mystery of who tossed Billy out the window, Axel is playing matchmaker with these two. He's also teaching Goodwin how to be a better cop. It's like the Axel Foley Finishing School. [...]

It turns out that Billy was learning about a group of corrupt LAPD officers who were involved with gun running with a Beverly Hills rich kid who has ties to the military. The mystery isn't that big a deal, and Axel mostly gets from place to place by half-assedly conning people. He makes up a fake story about who he is and then doesn't follow through on it. It's like Brandt and Haas saw the first BHC and just didn't have the energy to write anything that matched up to it.

Let's not be that hard on them, though: Fulfilling this franchise legacy 15 years after the fact is an utterly thankless task, despite the deep well of romcom subplots made available by advances in facial-recognition technology. Rocket launchers and fistfights are thrown in as well, but those aren't aren't quite as funny; perhaps this calls for the old fourth-installment standard of vodka tie-ins and thorny-orb ball thwackings. People love ball thwackings.