Hot Fuzz is the highly anticipated follow-up from the cast and crew of Shaun of the Dead, a smart, slick and bloody satire of buddy cop films. Hot Fuzz is not a spoof, and if it is, it certainly isn't an American spoof, which would be full of reenactments of popular action movies and cheesy plays on things we've already seen. No, Hot Fuzz is much better than that... but does it live up to the hype?
The movie follows Sergeant Nicholas Angel, played by Shaun - er, I mean Simon Pegg - who is the best cop in London. Unfortunately, he is so good that he makes all of his colleagues look bad, so they ship him off to a small town where there hasn't been a murder in 30 years. It is here that Angel has to adjust to flexing the rules he holds so dear, and to accept the fact that, stuck with idiot partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the most he has to look forward to is capturing escaped swans. However, there have been a lot of strange and gruesome accidents lately, and as Angel discovers, while the town never has any murders, it has plenty of "accidents". While the rest of the police force refuse to acknowledge that any crimes are being committed, Angel slowly convinces himself that a serial killer is on the loose.
Hot Fuzz is a British comedy, but, like Shaun of the Dead, it has done what most British films have failed to do: transcend borders and strike American funny bones. There is certainly a different style here to "spoofing" than you would see in the States, but in reality, Hot Fuzz's approach is much better, much more clever and ultimately more entertaining. As most popular action movies are indeed American films, Hot Fuzz naturally does have a lot of American-style sequences, but this is a comedy. How many American spoof/satires of action films have actually had good action scenes?
The great thing about Hot Fuzz is that it is funny and serious at the same time. The movie may be goofy, but at the same time, there is a real story with real murders and real action. This was what made Shaun of the Dead so great - it was a movie that made fun of zombie films while being a legitimate zombie film at the same time. Hot Fuzz is an action comedy that makes fun of a lot of action clichés, yet at the same time it is its own, effective action movie.
Hot Fuzz is a bit more inconsistent in the action than I was expecting, but that's only because it holds true to its story. While there are a few chase and fight sequences scattered about, a lot of action doesn't make much sense as, for most of the movie, all but Angel refuse to accept that there is indeed foul play going on. However, any lack of action earlier in the film is made up for by a truly entertaining, 20-minute action scene at the end of the movie, where guns are blazing, cars are flying through the air and helicopters are soaring overhead. Who thought that you would laugh at an old woman getting jump-kicked in the face. From the guys who loved Bad Boys II and Point Break, Hot Fuzz has some truly adrenaline-filled moments. Amazingly, the action sequence here is better than most action sequences in pure action movies of late.
All that being said, this movie from Shaun of the Dead writer/director Edgar Wright (Pegg also co-wrote both as well) isn't as good as the zombie film that propelled them into stardom. Following quality reviews and excellent movie trailers, the hype was huge, and it was almost impossible to live up to expectations. Hot Fuzz is funny and has some great action scenes, but it also doesn't flow quite as well as Shaun did. The lack of a female lead hurts it a bit (shouldn't a woman be a part of an action satire?), and the supporting cast in general aren't quite as flawless and entertaining. There was a natural balance to Shaun, while Hot Fuzz tends to be a bit choppier. Perhaps all of this comparison is a bit unfair, and to compare Hot Fuzz to such a perfect movie as Shaun of the Dead can only make it seem disappointing, but the comparison is there whether you like it or not. Still, as a follow-up to an excellent film, Hot Fuzz is a top notch action comedy.
Hot Fuzz isn't as good as Shaun of the Dead, but those looking for steady laughs and some fun action should relish in this smart and edgy satire.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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