The Shaun of the Dead crew sends up action flicks to the point of overkill, then keeps right on going.
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the most successful and dedicated policeman in London. With top marks in investigation, tactics, and armed response, he’s single-handedly making the rest of the force look bad… so their re-assigning him to the quietest corner of British countryside. Stuck in a town where the only crisis is an escaped water fowl, Angel soon begins to notice that the “quiet country town” seems to have an unusual number of deaths all reported as accidents that may be going prematurely uninvestigated. Along with local constable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), Angel sets out to expose the real threat to the village before he, too, has an unfortunate accident.
Hot Fuzz follows the Shaun of the Dead formula closely, taking an entire genre and combining it into a story on film that pays respects while actually joining the ranks of the same genre. Part of it seems like overkill the first time you watch this, but it also rewards multiple viewingswith things you didn’t catch the first time around… or maybe the second or third. It’s this kind of detail layering that elevated Shaun of the Dead to cult status, and Hot Fuzz is a worthy successor. The only real failing may be the overwhelming number of subplots meticulously tied together to create a series of overkill endings, so the film’s excessive length is a trade off for fitting in all the funny stuff instead of banishing it to DVD extras.
Simon Pegg’s character Angel is the polar opposite of Shaun, yet the mechanism is the same. Whereas Shaun was looked down upon for failing to live up to the status quo, Angel is looked down upon for exceeding it and never going off duty. Buddy cop Nick Frost looks up to Angel in the same way he looked up to Shaun, again transplanted into the unique yet similar situation. Also of note is the sheer number of characters, including Timothy Dalton’s turn as the is-he-or-isn’t-he too-obvious villain. Also guest starring is Angel’s girlfriend played by a mysterious uncredited actress; look it up online later for a treat because I won’t spoil it here.
As a situational comedy sending up action flicks without making fun of them, the filmmakers have a thin line to tread, and like their previous zombie love story epic, they pull it off again. The sheer length of the film is wearying and first of many endings may seem anticlimactic at first glance, but the film pays off as it nods to each and every one of its predecessors. The film isn’t for the squeamish, either, as some of the “accidents” are pretty graphic even if they are absurd. No mercy, no apologies, and sequel in the works, Hot Fuzz lives up to expectations even if it can’t exceed the hype. See it with someone who can fire two guns while jumping through the air.
(a three skull recommendation out of four)
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