Review / Throwback Review

Hot Fuzz

by Seamus Mulhern

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Hot Fuzz is one of the greatest movies ever made. I mean that sincerely.

It is one of the most beautifully constructed works of fiction made in the past decade. What begins as a parody of formulaic cop movies quickly turns into a brilliant subversion of the genre, weaving together moments of horror, romance, action, and Chinatown-esque mystery. It’s as thrilling as it is hilarious. I’ve seen it at least twenty times and every time I return to it, I notice new jokes and subtleties that went over my head before. Every time the end credits roll, I walk away with the feeling that it’s my favorite film of all-time.

Hot Fuzz tells the story of Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), a straight-edge London cop, who is transferred to Sandford, a small village in Gloucestershire where nothing criminal ever seems to happen. While there, he meets fellow officer, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a dimwitted action film geek and son of Nicholas’ boss. When a mysterious series of deadly “accidents” starts occurring with the neighborhood locals, Nicholas and Danny must team up to find the culprit while also growing closer together.

Very few movies, let alone spoof movies, wear their hearts on their sleeves as much as Hot Fuzz does. While it does present itself as a parody of buddy cop action films, it’s also written and directed by people who grew up on buddy cop action films. Part of what makes Hot Fuzz so special is that director Edgar Wright has a firm understanding of what makes these films work.

Any other director could have taken this script and turned it into something that doesn’t lean too much into the action or horror elements. Wright chose to go all in and deliver some of the most visceral action filmmaking I’ve ever witnessed. The camera movement and framing creates most of the drama in any given scene. On top of that, the editing is tight and cohesive. It’s fast enough to be thrilling and slow enough to allow the audience to see what’s going on.

It also helps that Hot Fuzz has one of the most dense and layered screenplays ever written. While the film manages to deliver a supremely engaging mystery, not a scene goes by that isn’t a comedic marvel. Not a single word is wasted. Every line of dialogue is always either progressing the plot, building up a joke, or providing subtle and poignant bits of character development. However, that’s not to undersell the work of the film’s actors. Pegg delivers a heavy departure from his usual slacker character and turns Nicholas Angel into a man driven by his idea of justice in a world where caring is viewed as a sign of weakness. Similarly, Frost is able to add depth to Danny’s character. What is usually a character used purely as comic relief is instead a sensitive, empathetic victim of circumstance.

But, the true joy of watching these characters is watching their friendship blossom. Very few romance films come close to capturing the sense of love between two characters like Hot Fuzz does. While it starts as a traditional buddy comedy (two characters with conflicting personalities forced to work together), Angel and Butterman’s friendship turns into a touching bond that serves as a healing process for the both of them. Nobody captures the intimacy of male friendship quite like Edgar Wright.

I could continue to sit here and tell you about the incredible sound design, the impeccable supporting cast, or the fact that the members of the Neighborhood Watch Association in the film refer to themselves as the NWA (I love this movie). But, I think I’ve made my point. Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite films of all-time. It combines the charm and wit of British comedy with the brazen and thought provoking thrills of the best of action cinema. It’s a hilarious, heartfelt, exciting, gory ode to everything that makes film great. Movies like Hot Fuzz are the reason that I love movies.

5 out of 5 stars

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