I finally got to see Hot Fuzz this evening and, as I'm bored in a hotel room, here is my review. Enjoy.
Before entering the ancient Odeon in Canterbury to see Hot Fuzz, I was sceptical. Simon Pegg, writer and star of this high octane action flick, is funny without a doubt, but whether he could pull off this homage Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer and
make it funny was something that I simply couldn't get my head around.
The premise of the film is pure cliche, both in terms of what it parodies and as a parody in itself. The movie takes PC Nicholas Angel out of his successful London armed responce unit and puts him as a newly promoted Sergeant in the sleepy village of Sandford, where there is no crime. Of course, this turns out to be far from the case as Angel uncovers a huge and shodowy plot of a cult compromising of all of the influencial members of the community who commit crimes "for the common good".
And it is in this setting that my first problem with the film comes into play. Am I really the only one who has seen the "bad shit happens in small and unlikely places" far too many times in British drama and comedy? I know that this is a parody, but even so, one feels that they could have done it with a little more finesse. A little more originality
The film however does have many a redeeming feature. The way that the story mixes narration with stylised visual flourishes shines out of the screen, making the narrative into a snappy and engaging experience. It is not unlike some of the sequences in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barells, without the excruciating mockney dialogue.
Then there's the acting from the principal characters. Simon Pegg, while not wholly believable, is exactly what the role demands. It was delightful seeing him underplaying the first two thirds of the movie, before emerging in the final action sequences as the role demanding all out hero. Nick Frost also shines as the dim witted but well meaning PC under Angels' wing and the chemistry between them is simply fantastic. Other notable roles of class are Timothy Dalton who is wonderful as the oily supermarket manager and prime suspect for the sinister goings on. His tongue in cheek is so good that you forget that he played James Bond for two movies. Praise also should go to Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall and the "the Andies", two cynical and clearly underworked CID officers who take a hilarious dislike to Angel on his arrival.
The casting is however far from perfect. Hot Fuzz is the nest in a long line of Brit-Flicks that seem to insist on having cameos of actors that we can "relish" in. Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy? Come on Simon, if they could carry off being in a successful movie in their own right then they would be doing it! Then there is the achingly annoying trait of putting popular comic TV actors into roles to prove that they are both hip and street. Kevin Eldon (Big Train) and Olivia Coleman (Peep Show, anything else that vaguely has Mitchell and Webb in it) - I'm talking to you. It's not that the parts or acting was bad per se, just that they were misplaced.
Then there's the action sequences. I must be honest and say that I am in two minds about these. On one hand I thought that they were great, exciting and tense. On the other I thought that they were too long, overblown and detracted from the great comic setup from the beginning. They also simply go on for too bloody long and nothing really happens in them. It's a simple case of characters shooting at each other in slightly different locations. True, some of it is enjoyable and some of it is amusing, but for my money, it simply misses the mark. It bares resemblance to the action sequences in Batman Begins - fine for what they are but surely only there to fill space and please the studio.
And this is where Hot Fuzz kind of becomes unstuck. It is a parody of balls out action films but handles this money shot with clumsiness. For the most part however, Hot Fuzz is a riotously funny comedy movie with some great acting, dialogue and story. It is rare that any movie will induce me to belly laugh, and Hot Fuzz has a good dozen genuine belly laughs. It also has something that I have not seen in a British comedy for quite some time - charm. For this is a truly charming movie that you like because its funny and good but mostly because we
made it. It comes as a declaration of the dry sense of humour and self deprivation that we as Brits live with every single day. It's not nearly perfect and could be improved on in a dozen different ways but, damn it, that sums up the British way of life. And for this reason above any others, Hot Fuzz is a resounding success.