Can you believe it’s already been ten years since British writer-director Edgar Wright, and regular collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, unleashed the second film in their Cornetto Trilogy on the world?
In Hot Fuzz, top London cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is reassigned to Sandford, the “safest village in the country” after his supreme efficiency makes his Metropolitan Police colleagues look bad. Initially frustrated by quiet country life – and the hero worship he receives from Constable Danny Butterman (Frost) – Angel begins to suspect there’s something more to Sandford’s low crime statistics but exceptionally high accident rates.
Now most movies date quickly, but the best – the classics – improve with age like a good wine. One decade on, police action comedy Hot Fuzz is as watchable as ever. Here are ten reasons why this is the case.
Please note: Some spoilers ahead.
1) It’s the perfect mash-up of police procedurals from both sides of the Atlantic.
Hot Fuzz takes the American cop tradition of high-octane car chases, explosions and heavy gun fire, and drops it into a standard British police show scenario where genteel detectives and tranquil country life take centre stage. It’s Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon meets Midsomer Murders and Inspector Morse – and the contrast is exploited to brilliant comic effect.
2) It’s unique.
See Reason 1. Then chalk this up as a point for Hot Fuzz in the “Which Cornetto Trilogy movie is best?” debate. Many will argue Shaun of the Dead is the best of the Cornettos, but since its release zombie comedies have become a dime a dozen (Zombieland, Warm Bodies, Fido, Cockneys vs Zombies, and that’s just the big screen). Hot Fuzz has never been imitated, let alone equalled.
3) It’s endlessly quotable.
4) It’s the ultimate buddy cop bromance.
All three of the Cornetto Trilogy films have a male friendship at their core. Hot Fuzz takes it even further. With the female love interest dispatched in the first ten minutes, all the usual hetero romance beats are transplanted onto Nicholas and Danny with straight-faced seriousness. There’s even a moment, after a fun evening out, where Danny asks Nicholas if he wants to come in for coffee… and action movies.
5) It’s ridiculously movie smart.
Wright and Pegg reportedly watched over 100 action films before writing Hot Fuzz. Bad Boys 2 and Point Break get explicit shout-outs and homage moments. However, there’s a lot more stuffed into the movie as well, including material from other genres, like Westerns, Slasher Horror and even Kaiju Cinema. Look out for nods to Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen and The Wicker Man. Hot Fuzz is supremely self-referential film-making – parody that retains its own identity without becoming a straight spoof. This makes the movie incredibly rewatchable, with new details to be noticed every time.
6) It reminded the world of the awesomeness of Timothy Dalton.
It’s not like the former James Bond has ever been short of work, but Hot Fuzz showcased the thespian’s comedic skills. Dalton’s performance as smug, apparently sociopathic, supermarket head Simon Skinner is one of the film’s highlights.
Played by Olivia Colman, Doris is Sanford’s lone policewoman. Sorry, police officer. Doris is just one of many support characters in Hot Fuzz, but she stands because almost every single line out her mouth is the dirtiest double entendre.
8) It’s unapologetically R-rated.
Blood sprays, body parts are blasted off, but it’s always a hoot. The filmmakers of Hot Fuzz deliberately upped the gore to highlight the ridiculousness of crimes in Sandford. Let’s not forget that this black comedy features some quintessentially British justifications for murder, like an irritating laugh, poor spelling and building an ostentatious house.
9) The villains are Brexiters.
Maybe this one is a stretch, but Hot Fuzz is eerily predictive of what lay ahead for the UK, and Western World as a whole. The all-white, all-English, all-middle-aged (and older) moral guardians of Sandford’s Neighbourhood Watch Alliance hate disruption to the status quo. Hoodies, human statues, crusty jugglers – they all have to go! Hell, these rigid, self-deluding conservatives even use these familiar words.
10) The action scenes are off the chain!
Finally, for all the humour in the film – for all the playing with tropes like a Big Bad who comes back one final time – Hot Fuzz delivers plain and simple on the action front. Punchy but coherent editing and superb choreography combine for some really satisfying pursuits and combats.