Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Kenneth Cranham, and Peter Wight
Length: 2 hours and 1 minute
Genre: Action, comedy
MPAA Rating: R
Description from IMDB:
“A skilled London police officer is transferred to a small town that’s harbouring a dark secret.”
Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), a London police officer, is transferred to a quiet village in the English countryside; though seemingly idyllic, mysterious deaths are dismissed as accidents and he begins to believe they are linked. After befriending the bumbling, but earnest, cop Andy (Nick Frost), Angel decides to get to the bottom of the murders. He uncovers a conspiracy involving many of the village’s inhabitants that dispose of anyone who could do damage to the reputation of their home.
The film is an homage to buddy cop movies and makes numerous references, both oblique and direct, throughout. The buddies in question are opposites who come to understand one another, which is a trope in many buddy cop movies. Sergeant Angel is uptight, rigid, and has an intense sense of honor and justice. He is contrasted by Andy, who wants to be a cop like those in the action movies he loves. It is his ability to watch these movies and “turn off” his brain that allows him to help Angel blow off steam and come to enjoy himself. Much of the film’s action or arrests are followed by montages of Angel filling out paperwork with the guilty parties having their mugshots taken. This is a big change from many cop movies because they often overlook this aspect of the job. Despite this addition, the third act of the film plays to the action-packed shootouts of similar movies. Angel returns to Sanford for a final shootout and Pegg overdubbed his dialogue at parts to make it sound more “badass”. He rides into town, like the gunslingers in Western movies of yore, and takes down the bad guys with the help of Andy and the Sanford police.
The dialogue in the film, as in other movies penned by Pegg and Wright, gives the movie an added dimension. Plot points are foreshadowed and character development is showcased through the lines spoken by the actors. Most noticeable of these is Angel’s insistence that he “kind of likes it here” when told he is going to be transferred to Sandford. His apprehension at leaving the city he loves has changed by the end of the movie when he is offered a spot back with the Metropolitan Police and repeats the line, only this time he refers to his newfound home. Many events in the film are foreshadowed by the characters in their dialogue. In an informal conversation where the detectives (played by Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall) are giving Angel a hard time, they say that “everyone and their mum is packing ‘round ‘ere.” When pressed for examples, they say farmers and farmers’ mums; this turns out to be true when Angel returns to Sanford and is shot at by Mr. Reaper (Kenneth Cranham) and his mother. The phrase “for the greater good” is said offhand throughout the village and is later revealed to be the motto of the cult.
Wright has an ability to take seemingly mundane activities in film and give them purpose. From quick shots of Mr. Porter (Peter Wight) pouring Andy’s beer and Angel’s cranberry juice, to his journey to Sandford, no screen time is wasted by mediocrity. This second example separates the film from others due to its handling of time passing. Most films would use wide shots of the vehicle travelling through the countryside with some barely relevant music in the background; Hot Fuzz does this by fast cuts of Angel riding on the train, checking the full bars on his phone, sitting at a train station, being woken up when it is night time and the train arrives, riding the second train with diminishing service, and finally riding the taxi into Sanford as his cell service finally fades out. This creative way sets the film apart by showing not only the distance from the world Angel knows, but doing so in a way that is effective and quick.
I could go on about this movie for ages, but will keep it to these main points. I will say that I am completely biased in my review; Edgar Wright is one of my favorite directors and Simon Pegg’s writing and acting in their work together has created some of the best moments in cinema. The way their humor fits into the storytelling, and their ability to place small details and Easter eggs for subsequent views, is what sets them apart for me in a cinematic system that becomes increasingly derivative and uninspired. Hot Fuzz is funny, it has action, it has wordplay, and it makes for an entertaining experience that one doesn’t need a degree in film to appreciate.
Verdict: 5 foreshadowed murders out of 5
Recommended for: Teenagers older than 17-years-old, fans of Simon Pegg, fans of Nick Frost, fans of action movies, fans of funny movies, fans of British humor, those who enjoyed Shaun of the Dead (2004), and you!
Not recommended for: Children or teenagers younger than 17-years-old, those who dislike British humor, those without a sense of humor, those who dislike buddy cop movies, or those who didn’t enjoy Shaun of the Dead (2004) (liars).