This article was written exclusively for The Film Magazine by Christopher Connor.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenwriters: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Bailey, Lucy Punch, Olivia Colman, Jim Broadbent, Alice Lowe, Timothy Dalton
2007’s Hot Fuzz forms the middle entry in the standalone Cornetto Trilogy, which began with 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and concluded with 2013’s The World’s End. As with the other two entries in the series, the film was co-written by director Edgar Wright and leading man Simon Pegg, and co-starred fellow ‘Spaced’ collaborator Nick Frost.
Hot Fuzz has been labelled by some as the best of the trio’s three films and was the most financially successful at the box office by some distance, receiving critical praise in both its native UK and the United States. As is the case with Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz featured on Empire Magazine’s list of the greatest British films of all time and it has been labelled as one of the finest action comedies ever made.
Given the links in cast and crew to Shaun of the Dead and ‘Spaced’, there may have been some worry of overkill in the Frost-Pegg partnership, but there are no signs of that in Hot Fuzz. In fact, familiarity with the pair works in the film’s favour as the chemistry between the two leads is arguably the best it has ever been, the pair bouncing off one another with any number of clever quips and jibes. Here, Pegg plays the uptight and consummately professional Sgt Angel who has been transferred from hustle and bustle of London to the sleepy country village of Sandford in Gloucestershire, while Frost plays his Police colleague Danny, a man who is precisely Angel’s opposite as the rural cop searching for the big time of a London lifestyle while still coming to grips with how to act as a grown up in a professional manner.
As ever in the Cornetto films, the supporting cast brings plenty to the table. Particular standouts are Jim Broadbent as Sandford’s head of police and Timothy Dalton as mysterious supermarket owner Simon Skinner, but other notable inclusions are Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman in the small role of PC Doris and The Wicker Man (1973) star Edward Woodward, the latter of whom brings particular attention to the film’s sleepy English village setting and indicates a darker underbelly reminiscent of the 70s classic. In keeping with the in-joke present in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz features a cameo by a ‘Spaced’ cast member too, this time that of Julia Deakin who played Stella Tulley. There are also numerous cameos for fans of British cinema and television, including appearances by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy.
Edgar Wright’s films are known for their eclectic soundtracks, and in Hot Fuzz the director makes moves to bring his chosen songs in on the joke, the likes of Supergrass (get it?) and Dire Straits being featured prominently, with a particular focus on The Kinks’ iconic album Village Green Preservation Society.
By the same token, Hot Fuzz wears its influences on its sleeve and with a sly grin on its face, the film making multiple references to the movies of Tony Scott, Shane Black and Kathryn Bigelow in particular; Bigelow’s Point Break (1991) being the subject of a few of the film’s most referential moments of comedy. These references and homages don’t feel out of place in Hot Fuzz, but are instead more indicative of Wright’s immense respect for those who inspired his own directorial and written work. Wright himself would of course go on to write and direct Baby Driver, one of the finest action films in recent years, the fingerprints of his coming mastery of the genre being played out to great effect in small town chases and shoot outs that not only bring thrills but absurd moments of comedy too.
Along with predecessor Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz is a fantastic showcase for the collective talents of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. It is without question the most quotable of the three Cornetto films and arguably the most iconic. The ensemble cast are clearly having an absolute blast throughout, and the humour blends immaculately with the film’s darker moments and inventive action sequences. Far from being a copy of previous collaborations between the cast and crew, Hot Fuzz feels tonally distinct; a new adventure from hugely talented filmmakers who at this point were offering some of their best ever work.
Written by Christopher Connor
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