What makes a good action movie?
The simplest answer is great action.
So, what makes a great action movie?
I would have to say great action embedded in a great movie.
It is precisely for that elusive quality that Hot Fuzz is in my mind the best action movie ever. There, I’ve said it and I’m not taking it back.
I was expecting to mildly like Hot Fuzz at worst, when I stepped into the cinema hall, because I’ve seen the team’s previous work in the form of Shaun of the Dead and the television serial Spaced, and I loved those. But that really didn’t prepare me for the sheer force of brillance that assulted my senses during the entire 121 minute running time of this film. Hot Fuzz never wasted any time and from the first minute it was a full-on kinetic piece of modern cinematic storytelling, both in the way it was edited and the pace at which the world of the movie was spelt out and displayed to the audience. Also, from the first moment it was funny.
… Wait, that might be a bit of under selling on my part. It was actually hilarious! First they choose to make a movie about possibly the least glamourised law enforcement body in history: the London Metropolitan Police, and then they make it even more unlikely to be gripping by taking our very well sculpted main character and dropping him into the constabulary of a small English village. Right there you would think that this movie is going to disintegrate into rural comedy or an outtake from some 19th century manor novel, but no. Hot Fuzz is unrelenting. It never stops being unashamedly intelligent or unashamedly warm. From the first frame you get to know these characters well and you feel for them even if you don’t “like” all of them, because they are all played so genuinely. After a while it’s like being with friends. You almost know how each person is going to react to a given situation and what they are going to say, and that makes the banter even more humourous.
If all this character talk is giving you the impression of a nice well mannered village wonder, nothing can be farther from the truth. Hot Fuzz is attitude exemplified, all the way from its iconic protagonist to its complete disregard for conventions or showing the “right thing”. Here you see the quirkiness and the strangeness of every situation taken to its extreme in a quiet and seemingly understated way. This hightens the effect even more due to its stark contrast from the kind of hyperbole that we’ve come to know as comedic treatment in films. But what it isn’t understated in is its action elements. Those are so direct and forthright in their execution as to make you stand up and cheer for the sheer gall and honesty of the team to the subject matter.
What is the subject matter? Hot shot city cop is packed off to a small village to cool him off, because he’s just too good and he’s making everyone else in the city force look bad. His seriousness on the job continues into his new rural domain and thus both hilarity and intrigue ensue. To say anymore would really be to take away from the movie because this movie is an excellent example of the medium, wherein it becomes very difficult to see any of its elements in isolation. So well churned is this heady mix of sound, visuals, plot and character, that to see anything but the whole would be a cheap shadow.
Finally we come to the action. Considering the title of this article, needeless to say the action is absolutely brilliant. Action fans will have plenty to ooh and aah about, and movie junkies will be thrilled by the various homages and references which are really a hallmark of this genre and an absolutely beautiful device of this particulat story. The action is non-stop when it starts, but its absence in parts of the movie hightens its presence when it does arrive. Here you get the absolutely memorable taught scenes of love making rather than the non-stop pornographic gun powder gang-bang that plagues so many action movies, and this movie is the better for it.
Great acting from the cast, great direction, excellent editing, and last but certainly not the least is a deep understanding of humour that makes this film genuinely hilarious from start to finish. It has blood, it has gore, it has murder, it has intrigue, it has guns, but you will be laughing your guts out all the way through and quite likely for a long time after the credits have rolled.
Hot Fuzz above all else is movie for people who love movies from people who love movies. That fact comes through loud and clear throughout the execution of this script and my greatest respect to the creative team for that. Go watch Hot Fuzz not because I’m telling you to, but because it has great action embedded in a smashing movie, and it is the BEST action movie ever.
There, I’ve said it again.