Review: Hot Fuzz holds up years after release

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Imagine, for a moment, your favourite action movie. Picture the gunfights, the explosions, the heart palpitations. Then, imagine all that thrust into the reluctant arms of a deadpan British comedy set in the middle of holiday country in Somerset. That’s Hot Fuzz (2004). The second installment of three in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto anthology, Hot Fuzz is the Simon Pegg-Nick Frost duo’s take on the cop thriller genre, and it is a veritable masterpiece at that.

The film’s setup comes when no-nonsense London constable Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is transferred out to the tiny West Country village of Sandford. He finds himself stuck with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who plays the character type of oafish sidekick admirably.

I’ll spare you the exposition—synopsis wouldn’t do the film justice. Essentially, Angel finds out pretty quickly that Sandford’s quaint appearance has more to it than it seems. Members of the village’s pseudo-cult Neighbourhood Watch Alliance, it turns out, are so committed to retaining its Village of the Year crown that they’ll kill anyone who might threaten it. The result of it all is an over-the-top, high-octane shootout between Angel and Frank Butterman—father to Danny and leader of the NWA.

The film’s third act is a non-stop barrage of gunfire, chase sequences, and explosions, all set to the heart-pounding score of former James Bond composer David Arnold. The sheer scale of the action over a small-town backdrop casts a marvellous satire on all that’s been overdone in action movies through the years. Hot Fuzz gives you everything you’d expect from a fast-paced cop movie, but all that comes packaged in a hilarious script full of Pegg’s characteristic wit.

Time and again, Hot Fuzz outdoes itself. Every time you think it’s reached its denouement, director Edgar Wright cranks it up another notch. Just like its predecessor Shaun of the Dead (2004), the fight scenes are perfectly choreographed for maximum badassery with a healthy dose of hilarity (and edited right down to individual beats of Arnold’s soundtrack). Although no scene can ever quite match Shaun of the Dead’s zombie pub brawl to the dulcet tones of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” Hot Fuzz is more consistently epic.

Hot Fuzz is to crash-bang action movies what Shan of the Dead is to zombie flicks: it’s not a hostile parody, but rather an affectionate homage to some of the best the genre has to offer. Wright directs with a sincere reverence for the influences he’s drawing on, but with an undeniably tongue-in-cheek attitude, nodding to the absurdity of some special effects demonstrations.

From cloak-and-dagger intrigue to gruesome violence to tasteful British comedy that would make a Python proud, Hot Fuzz is a film that ages incredibly well, always entertaining on every successive re-watch. Whether you’re watching to search for early hints about the movie’s twist, or to spot all the celebrity cameos (Peter Jackson’s uncredited role as a stabby Santa Claus is a personal favourite), or even just to bask in the action, there’s always a good reason to give Hot Fuzz another go.