Edgar Wright, along with co-writer Simon Pegg and faithful stalwart Nick Frost, fuckin’ love movies.
Nick Angel (Simon Pegg) is one of the best cops in all of London. He is so good that he makes the rest of his department look bad in comparison. His arrest rate is 400% higher than anyone else! So the higher ups do the only thing they can think of — promote him to sergeant and ship him off to work in Stanford, the safest village in all of England. Here, Angel soon discovers that life is on a slightly different path, where the biggest problems seem to be a recurring “living statue” performance artist and an escaped swan. Angel also discovers that the town, which hasn’t had a reported murder in over twenty years, does seem to have an abnormal amount of fatal accidents. Angel’s city-trained mind kicks into overdrive, as he works alongside his new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) to put clues together that nobody sees. Angel’s linked clues leads him to Simon Skinner (ex-Bond, Timothy Dalton) a local grocery store owner who may just have a bit too much to gain from the recent “accidents” of four locals, but will the rest of his squad even listen?
Three years after the fan-favorite genre-bender Shaun of the Dead, the powerhouse trio of Wright/Pegg/Frost (as well as under-noted producer Nira Park), who’ve been linked ever since the brilliant British TV show Spaced, return for another tour-de-force of action, excitement, comedy, over-the-top gore, and more loving references than you could ever hope to catch. The team is on top of their game and prove once again that adding a British accent to anything make it just that much better! Hot Fuzz glides with an almost supernatural ease from city cop/village cop mismatched buddy comedy to horrific giallo thriller complete with black-gloved killer and finally to the action movie mode featuring tidbits from every action movie ever made. Ever.
This is no mere parody though, but in essence a living, breathing mass consciousness of the action genre as it has evolved over that past thirty odd years. It is brought into existence by the main group mentioned above, with a complete understanding of what the genre means, and with the enthusiasm of a 12-year-old lad who has not become jaded from seeing too many disappointments on the big screen and revels in the excitement of explosions and the fascination with characters that may be bigger than life but with a core that can be connected with. This 12-year-old ideology of action is literally brought to the screen via Frost’s somewhat dim and childish Danny, who not only asks just the right nudge-nudge-wink-wink questions to his new hero found in Pegg’s Angel, but has to show him via home screenings of Point Break and Bad Boys II just what he is. It serves as both subtle set-up to later scenes but also takes care of the pre-requisite scene in which the hero is shown by the love interest that he has never lost his will to do what needs to be done.
Every hero of course needs a villain, and Angel’s main target of suspicion through the film is Simon Skinner, who is gleefully brought to the screen by Timothy Dalton. Dalton absolutely eats up the opportunity to pop in and out as the is-he-or-isn’t-he the bad guy of the film. His wonderful quips throughout the film, courtesy of the Wright/Pegg screenplay, egg Angel on, almost begging him to catch him in the act of a crime. Skinner always seems to be just one step ahead of Angel, almost able to perceive what Angel will do next. Not only does Dalton relish in the motifs of the antagonist, but he is also given a henchmen, a hulking brute that has been spawned by cross-breeding Night Court‘s Richard Moll, Lurch of The Addam’s Family (the character is even called Lurch) and Moonraker‘s Jaws. If you need further proof for the love of all things “James”, Tommy McCook and the Supersonics‘ “Down On Bond Street” get some action on the soundtrack.
Part of the fun of Hot Fuzz is seeing just how many different references can be caught. The greatest trick that the film pulls though, is that much like what Shaun of the Dead did with the zombie film and Spaced did with sit-coms, it metamorphoses into an honest-to-god action flick. People do not watch Airplane! for the thrill of not knowing if the plane will make it. They do not watch Saturday the 14th (thought I was going to say Scary Movie, eh?) to be frightened. They do not watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights for period-piece adventure and romance. They will watch this when they need an adrenaline rush. And that is what sets this apart from the others. And everybody on board this flick fuckin’ knows it.