Film Reviews

Hot Fuzz Edgar Wright

Rating - 8/10

The big screen has played host to more than its fair share of hot shot detectives, hard-nosed American cops, and shady undercover agents, but for decades the humble British Bobby has been suspiciously absent, relegated instead to mundane TV shows like The Bill and Heartbeat. In fact the last truly memorable portrayal of a police officer was thirty four years ago, when Edward Woodward shone as the wonderfully naïve Sergeant Howie in 1973's The Wicker Man.

Enter Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the team behind surprise zombie hit Shaun of the Dead and the brilliant cult sitcom Spaced. Taking inspiration - and a few one liners - from 90's Hollywood action flicks such as Bad Boys, the Lethal Weapon series and Point Break, Wright and Pegg have created that rare beast - a British film that successfully combines two genres, in this case action and comedy.

A brief synopsis. P.C. Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is the Metropolitan Police's top constable. Concerned that his superb arrest record is making everyone else look bad, Nicholas's superiors (cameos for Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy and the Office's Martin Freeman) arrange for his transfer to the sleepy West Country village of Sandford, where he is immediately shocked by the relaxed attitude to policing of Chief Inspector Butterman (Jim Broadbent) and his team of startlingly incompetent officers, which includes Butterman's son Danny (an excellent Nick Frost).

The workload of missing swans, rogue hedge-cutting (really), and teenage shoplifters initially seems routine to Nicholas, but as he meets Sandford's less savoury characters, most notably Timothy Dalton's smarmy supermarket mogul Simon Skinner, he soon begins to suspect that things in the village are not what they seem. And, needless to say, he's right.

Nicholas goes on to expose the village's dark secrets and an all-action final third ensues, a relentless torrent of one line gems, film references - a staple of Pegg and Wright's work dating back to their Spaced days - and enough gun fights, car chases and explosions to satisfy even the most hardened of action movie junkies.

Some have billed Hot Fuzz a spoof - indeed the same label was attached to Shaun of the Dead - but I think this misses the point. While Wright and Pegg clearly recognise the absurdity of big-budget American action movies, they also understand what makes them entertaining, and these elements are lovingly incorporated into Hot Fuzz. The comedy element comes from the juxtaposition of these American action values (e.g. Nicholas and Danny's relationship) with the church fetes, Neighbourhood Watch meetings and underage drinking that are all so typical of English village life.

At two hours Hot Fuzz is perhaps a touch on the long side and the drawn out ending(s) - another nod to this film's American action counterparts - are probably unnecessary, but in terms of sheer laughs it's impossible to argue that Hot Fuzz is anything but another total success for one of British cinema's most talented film-making teams. Roll on the DVD release.