All films by Edgar Wright warrant repeat viewings, such is the density and rapidity of his comedy. Hot Fuzz is no exception, and as anyone who has watched it repeated for the thousandth time on ITV2 will confirm, the film has only gotten better with age. Hot Fuzz is the work of a creative duo high on a newfound confidence. That second album can be tricky, but Wright and Pegg responded to unfamiliar expectation with a film that confirmed their status as ones to watch. Without the success of Hot Fuzz, it is hard to imagine Edgar Wright being handed the keys to Scott Pilgrim and Ant-Man, or Simon Pegg becoming an action hero in the Mission Impossible and Star Trek franchises.
It is in the transition between Simon Pegg’s performances, where the growth in maturity and the film’s increasing relevance is perhaps most evident. Where Shaun of the Dead had Simon Pegg typifying the obliviousness of youth to the world crumbling around them, Hot Fuzz makes him the ultimate professional. Nicholas Angel’s flaw is the opposite of Shaun’s and his enemy, rather than a horde of zombies, is an older generation that doesn’t want to relinquish control of their kingdom.
Whilst a parody of the buddy-cop genre the way Shaun of the Dead was of the zombie film, the real strength of Hot Fuzz lay not in its deconstruction of cop-movie cliché, but in rooting its bombastic action in rural England. The film is a love letter to a certain type of American action filmmaking but fundamentally British at heart. Taking that boyish desire to see the world of the movies brought to your front door (the film was shot in Edgar Wright’s hometown of Wells in Somerset), Hot Fuzz goes one step further and satirizes the idea of Little Englanders as much as it sends up the work of Michael Bay and Tony Scott.
Indeed, it is in a post-Brexit Britain where Hot Fuzz’s satirical edge has only grown sharper. Nicholas Angel is the ultimate London liberal metropolitan elitist. His superiors can think of no worse punishment than banishing him to the countryside, where Angel looks down on his new colleagues. He doesn’t drink at lunchtime, hasn’t seen Die Hard or Bad Boys, and his decoration of choice is a Japanese Peace Lilly. A cultural stick in the mud, he rolls his eyes at their seemingly trivial concerns, and aversion to outsiders.
Meanwhile, the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance is a gang of elderly people desperately clinging on to their Village of the Year title. What at first seems like a slightly over-zealous group is ultimately revealed to be a murderous cult. They kill people for having houses that are, ‘not in keeping with the village’s rustic aesthetic’ and other innocuous crimes. All of which focus upon maintaining some sense of identity and purity. They’re taking back control of their village…and it’s all for the greater good. What was at first a joke about a dark underbelly to quaint English villages has a newfound resonance following the, ‘I want my country back’ politics of 2016. In fact, Bob Woodward’s character says that they will, “make Sandford great again.” Sound familiar? There is even an attempt to clamp down on fake news of sorts, as Tim Messenger is murdered for his numerous errors in the Sandford Citizen. Who knew that a mere cop film parody would end up being so prescient about the cultural divides and nativism driving politics a decade later?
Following such an interpretation through to the end, it could appear as if the film concludes with the London elitist smacking the rural community into submission. However, whilst Nicholas Angel may blow them all away in an action-packed, adrenaline fuelled thrill ride, the ending is not as simple as it may seem. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have joked of the ending’s, ‘ambiguous fascist nod’ where Angel, previously the most liberal of the cops, is wearing a bomber jacket and puts pedal to the metal at hearing of some, ‘hippie types’ messing around with the dustbins. Has one questionable regime merely been replaced by another? Perhaps the film’s prescience has not yet run its course…
Therefore, as it turns 10 years old, Hot Fuzz is arguably sharper and more relevant than ever. Since its release we’ve seen other self-aware buddy cop comedies such as 21 Jump Street, however Hot Fuzz’s unique blend of satire, reverence and action has yet to be surpassed. A film that feels as fresh as the day it was released, Hot Fuzz is one of the best British comedies of the 21st century and the glue that holds the Cornetto Trilogy together.
Have you seen Hot Fuzz? Do you agree that its satirical edge has only grown sharper post-Brexit? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.