Jerry Bruckheimer is the most successful movie producer on the planet. Nicknamed “Mr. Blockbuster” Bruckheimer is either regarded as a genius or a lowbrow hack, depending on your tolerance for rapid gunfire, slo-mo car crashes and scripts with the emotional depth of a lunch tray. Movies such as Bad Boys, The Rock and Con Air have made him very rich and while he busied himself circling the earth in his Gulfstream IV private jet, thinking up new and insidious ways to blow things up, a trio of British filmmakers came up with a film called Hot Fuzz that both pays tribute to, and takes the Mickey out of, the Bruckheimer oeuvre.
A couple of years ago actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with director Edgar Wright created Shawn of the Dead, a zombie movie that effectively mixed big laughs with buckets of gore. That movie became a giant cult hit, establishing them as purveyors of smart, funny pop culture satire. This time out they’ve made an unlikely buddy cop picture that takes a few minutes too long to take off, but pays big dividends in the third act.
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a big city London cop with an impressive record. He lives and breathes the job, and in one year racks up an incredible 400 arrests. His efforts don’t go unnoticed. In fact, they attract too much notice forcing his supervisors to arrange to have him shipped off to a remote village because his gung-ho attitude is making them look like slackers. Transferred to the sleepy little township of Sandford he soon begins to suspect that the quiet town holds some dangerous secrets. Teamed with a bumbling partner (Nick Frost) he sets out to get to the bottom of a series of remarkable “accidents” that have claimed the lives of several notable citizens. The nefarious plot the feisty cop uncovers is part Wicker Man, part Bad Boys.
Director and co-writer Wright carefully combines the very English sensibility of a movie like Wicker Man, in which a small community is investigated by a strong-willed cop, with the pyrotechnics of an American action film. Using the Bruckheimer Rule which states that the movie will get bigger, louder and more violent as it nears its close, Wright begins with a character study that morphs into a full-on blood-soaked actioner by the end of the last reel.
Cleverly edited and smartly written—homages include a tip of the hat to Chinatown, the greatest crime script ever written, with, “Forget it, Angel. It’s Sandford” and a literal shot-by-shot recreation from Point Blank—the film could use some judicious editing in the early reels. Hot Fuzz has an interesting premise and some good jokes, but at 121 minutes it feels a bit labored.
To pass the time during the dull bits keep your eyes peeled for some unaccredited big time cameos. Sharp-eyed viewers will be able to spot Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson as a homicidal Father Christmas, and Cate Blanchett as Angel’s masked CSI ex-girlfriend.
Hot Fuzz doesn’t succeed as brilliantly as Shawn of the Dead, but does an admirable job of mixing hilarity and havoc. I think even Bruckheimer would approve.