Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman
With Edgar Wright’s upcoming “Baby Driver” hitting our screens I felt it was time for a “Movie Burner Retro Review” and what a way to kick the season of retro reviews off than 2007’s “Hot Fuzz” yes that right TEN years ago Edgar Wright treated us all to the second instalment of “The Corneto Trilogy” and it didn’t disappoint.
Top London Police Officer Nicholas Angel is the best of the rest in his line of duty, in fact he’s that good he is making the rest of the force look inefficient. As a result he is being reassigned to a quiet village that goes by the name of Sandford without a say. The opening scene in this situation is very well played out as we are first introduced to Angel’s direct superior the MET Sergeant played by Martin Freeman. Unsatisfied with the direct order Angel request to speak to a higher authority in Metropolitan Police Inspector played by Steve Coogan who supports his colleague the MET Sergeant that it would be good for Angel to take a step back. Still not taking the news well Angel demands to speak to the Met Chief Inspector (Bill Nighy) who again feels it’s time for a change of scenery for Nicholas.
After the success of Shaun of the Dead it was always going to be a difficult task equalling or surpassing on its indirect follow up. Never the less with this success meant Hot Fuzz might just have a few cameos from actors who are fans of Wright, Pegg and Frost who have been a successful formula since the days of Spaced (1999) I didn’t know this at the time but in the very first few moments of the film there are cameos by Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett which you can work out by yourself where they appear and as previously mentioned it was nice and unique to see four comedy legends in the one scene in Pegg, Coogan, Freeman and Nighy.
Angel is paired up with Danny Butterman (Frost), who endlessly quizzes Angel on the action lifestyle in LON DON. Frost although plays the more comedic character in “Hot Fuzz” he also shines as the story unfolds and becomes the unlikely hero. Just as Danny is in awe of the City Cop, Angel finds adjusting to country life at first a struggle and his by the book approach ruffles some feathers amongst the village folk. It isn’t until two actors from the local theatre workshop who Angel watched perform the night before are found decapitated in their convertible (look out for David Threlfall as Martin Blower) . It is assumed the incident is a traffic accident, but Angel isn’t going to accept that theory, especially when more and more people are turning up dead.
Hot Fuzz is obviously influenced by American action films and in particular Cop action films. Wright and Pegg don’t just simply spoof these films but draw inspiration from them and honour some of the scenes (scene for scene) from movies like Point Break and Bad Boys II. Strangely, although set in an English Country Village “Hot Fuzz” is precisely in line with some of the American mainstream action adventure with the way it’s shot, the music and the action are all very impressive for a low budget movie.
Simon Pegg’s performance as Nicholas Angel is so well developed as a self assured, confident and a workaholic Police Officer it is a work of genius. Pegg’s character is such a far cry from the bumbling Shaun in Shaun of the Dead. In fact it’s Nick Frost’s Danny who picks up the mantle of that role in Hot Fuzz.
One surprise performance and you may say “comeback” at the time is from former Bond star Timothy Dalton who stars as Simon Skinner the manager of the local Supermarket. Dalton surprisingly is credible as a comic actor in the movie and delivers some funny lines and for me is one of the movie’s highlights. Looking back over the last ten years since this movie’s release it is rather disappointing that Dalton’s performance and role didn’t catapult a second wind in his career with more similar roles but nonetheless I think he can look back on his role as Skinner with some pride.
As I previously mentioned the cameos are always nice to spot in the movie and give you a real joy an excitement the first time you watch the movie but you can’t help commend the casting of Hot Fuzz and in particular the supporting cast of Timothy Dalton, Edward Woodward, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Kevin Eldon, Billie Whitelaw, Bill Bailey, Rafe Spall and the brilliant Olivia Colman. The filmmakers really pull out all the stops and they all have ample time on screen to make an impact and considerable presence.
The direction by Edgar Wright again effectively captures the feel of the type of film and he leaves his fast paced visuals and comedy stamp on this fine film. The cinematography and editing are what make Hot Fuzz enjoyable to watch visually and with an excellent soundtrack that most Hollywood filmmakers would be jealous of really sets the scene in particularly the legendary Kinks “Village Green Preservation Society” giving us a musical landscape over the village of Sandford.
Hot Fuzz is a unique hybrid film that actually works because of the acting, because of the writing, because of the directing and although many might see it not as good as Shaun of the Dead it has to be said that it shouldn’t be compared to that in the first place. Sadly though people will because of its part of a trilogy of films that naturally people will compare to with the previous. I have already been guilty of that with the final instalment of “The Cornetto Trilogy” in viewing 2013’s “The World’s End” which I will leave for another day.