VOD film review: Hot Fuzz
Ivan Radford | On 11, May 2017Reading time: 4 mins
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Timothy Dalton, Olivia Colman, Kevin Eldon
Watch Hot Fuzz online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
How do you follow Shaun of the Dead? A decade ago, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright came up with the answer: by doing something completely different. Following the success of their leap to the big screen with the rom-zom-com, Hot Fuzz saw the trio step up their budget, swap the horror for action and the zombies for Timothy Dalton and a swan.
It might sound like a bizarre move, but Pegg, Frost and Wright get the balance between cult gem and mainstream hit just right, managing to widen their appeal, scale and creativity, while still retaining their unique voice. Action comedies are two-a-penny these days, but Hot Fuzz feels wonderfully, gloriously British. That’s partly thanks to the parochial setting, which sees police constable Nicholas Angel (Pegg) sent from the intensity of London – where he was once stabbed by a man dressed as Father Christmas – to the remote countryside. There, he finds himself partnered with Danny (Frost), the son of the local police chief (Jim Broadbent on hilarious form), as childish and incompetent as Nicholas is professional and talented. Sure enough, they soon find themselves investigating a string of nasty killings, the likes of which the village hasn’t seen before. Is Angel just suffering from withdrawal?
A huge part of Hot Fuzz’s success stems solely from the dynamic between the two leads, as Pegg (whose deadpan comic timing was refined to a lethally sharp point on Spaced) embraces the part of the straight man – and Frost, who, given the chance, steals the whole film with his pratfalling, verbal diarrhoea and die-hard love of Point Break and Bad Boys II. (“Have you ever fired your gun up in the air gone aaaggghh?”)
The rest of the cast follow their example, delivering turns that turn cliches into fried slices of comic gold: Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall (as “the Andys”) somehow elevate bit-part walk-ons into hilariously macho stereotypes, while Olivia Colman’s foul-mouthed copper is just one in a long line of flawless performances. All the while, Timothy Dalton competes with his own moustache to be the best thing in the movie, as the deliciously sinister manager of the local supermarket, Mr. Skinner, who proclaims himself a “slasher”… of prices, while grinning rakishly and growling with relish.
On laughs alone, Hot Fuzz is one of the great British comedies of the last decade – just in terms of sheer volume, it doesn’t waste a second of screentime, throwing gags at the screen with the kind of relentless enthusiasm that makes classics such as Airplane so breathtaking. But while there’s fun in the giggling and the amiable bromance between Pegg and Frost (whose chemistry, after years of working together, is effortless), what makes Hot Fuzz so entertaining is the role played by the trio’s third man: Edgar Wright.
Wright, whose direction of Spaced aped genre after genre with a visual wit to match the sitcom’s pop culture-referencing script, jumps at the chance to fill the big screen with his signature style: fast zooms, whip cuts and explosive set pieces are everywhere, something that he even extends to the scenes of Angel doing paperwork. Yes, there’s a punch-up in a supermarket and a shootout in a cobbled street, but there’s also the world’s most exciting montage of forms being filled in.
All built around that simple, almost subversive premise – that our main character is actually good at his job – Wright takes his cue from Michael Bay and Tony Scott but adds a self-aware humour that has since gone on to influence other directors and editors. Come the final act, when the daft plot needs to pay off its build-up, it’s Wright’s eye for action that seals the deal: if Hot Fuzz finally, briefly lets up on the jokes, it continues to accelerate in every other department, managing to be not just a good comedy, but a good action movie too. How do you follow Shaun of the Dead? By creating something even funnier. Endlessly quotable (between this and Shaun, you won’t be able to go to the corner shop without asking for a Cornetto ever again) and deliriously over-the-top, re-watching it now makes you long for the next Pegg, Frost and Wright reunion. The fact that we’re still waiting, though, is only testament to how good they are when at their best.
Hot Fuzz is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.