Ex Libris: Hot Fuzz (2007)

In addition to continually checking out new or new-to-me movies this year, I’m also trying to make a concerted effort to go through my existing collection. To help narrow the search down — I have a comically large binder that I keep most of my DVDs and Blu-rays in — I asked Alexa to pick a random number between 1 and 26. She chose 8, so I did a little finger-counting and settled on the letter H. Being a well-organized geek, my flicks are in alphabetical order, so when I got to H, Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz practically jumped off the page at me. On one hand, Edgar Wright’s just the best and on the other, I realized I hadn’t watched it in just about a decade!

And you know what? Much like Shaun Of The Dead, this one still holds up and offers plenty of entertaining goodness to absolutely devour. Before diving too deeply, a minor recap seems in order. In the film, Simon Pegg plays a supercop by the name of Nic Angel who’s so good at his job that the higher ups — played beautifully by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy — decided to send him to the small village of Sandford, Gloucestershire where the toughest crime seems to be an errant goose.

Once there, he’s befuddled by the lack of procedure in this small town, but winds up making friends with hapless action movie fan Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). As Danny teaches Nic the joys of cutting loose, Nic educates Danny in the ways of proper policework which is good because it turns out there’s a murder spree in the works thanks to a black robed, hooded and gloved killer! Even though the rest of the force tries chalking everything up to accidents, Nic pushes in an effort to find the true cause of these deaths which is both shocking and awesome.

For one thing, I consider myself a more savvy and well-educated movie fan now, so I not only more fully understood the Bad Boys II and Point Break homages, but also the intense horror nods that I don’t remember picking up on the first time around.

In fact, even though I’m far from an expert in this particular subgenre, I’m pretty confident in saying that Wright pulled quite a bit from the world of giallo. Following up on this hunch I did a lot of deep research (by which I mean, I read part of the Wiki page) and here’s what it says about them:

Giallo films are generally characterized as gruesome murder-mystery thrillers, that combine the suspense elements of detective fiction with scenes of shocking horror, featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and often jarring musical arrangements. The archetypal giallo plot involves a mysterious, black-gloved psychopathic killer who stalks and butchers a series of beautiful women.

That sounds about right for this film, right? So, while I appreciate that all of the marketing got me into the theater to see Wright’s take on action films, the movie itself delivers that, but also something completely different that I wasn’t expecting either now or then.

But Hot Fuzz is also a damn funny movie. Sometimes they present action movie conventions so perfectly that you can’t help but laugh at them — like the opening montage showing how awesome Angel is, which must have been super fun to shoot — to much more obvious sources of fun like the mix of the bawdy lady cop and the old officer who cut to the chase and said whatever she hinted at or the fact that the local theater company put on a version of Romeo + Juliet that fully lifted the costumes and set design from Baz Luhrman’s ’96 film.

Of course, that’s not even the final assessment of this film because it’s also a fantastic action flick! Even with all the nods and mentions, you get actual scenes that look just as good as the ones mentioned in the movie itself. They just happen to be played out in a setting that also makes them hilarious.

I really can’t say enough good things about this film. As an American viewer it’s a little funny how far they have to go to get the rural precinct stocked with weapons, but that’s still a fun scene, so it’s not a problem. I did get a little worried about pacing when I checked and saw that I still had an hour left. As it happens, that’s probably one of the fastest, craziest hours in film, so I barely thought about it again.

Having such a great time with this film not only makes me want to give Shaun and Scott Pilgrim another watch from my own collection, but also finally watch The World’s End and Baby Driver, neither of which I’ve seen yet!

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